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Category: Resources

Jun 25, 2018 - Articles

HOT CARS AND KIDS: FIVE SAFETY TIPS TO PREVENT A TRAGEDY

In 2017, forty-two (42) children died after being left in a hot vehicle. Unfortunately, while one death is too many, this number of deaths is up from the annual average of 37. Sadly, ten (10) minutes is how long it takes in a closed vehicle for the temperature to rise twenty (20) degrees. And a twenty degree increase in an interior car’s temperature, especially for children, is enough to result in death. To avoid these preventable deaths, some newer cars are now equipped with a “rear seat reminder” if a rear car door is opened and closed before the vehicle is started or while the vehicle is running. In such a situation, when the car is turned off, alarm chimes will sound and a message will be displayed on the instrument panel reminding the driver to check the rear seat. Additionally, some newer car seats are equipped with a computer chip placed in the child restraint straps, which transmits a signal to the driver, within seconds of the vehicle’s ignition being turned off. If your vehicle or car seat is not equipped with such safety features, below are five safety tips to prevent a tragedy. Never leave a child alone in a car. Even if the windows are cracked, the temperature can simply rise too high and too quickly to avoid injury. Keep your car locked when you are not in it, in order to prevent a child from trying to play in the vehicle and inadvertently lock themselves in. […]

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Feb 1, 2018 - Estate Planning

Updated Medicaid Eligibility Amounts for 2018

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has revised the dollar amounts it uses to calculate eligibility for Medical Assistance Long-Term Care benefits (MA-LTC benefits). These cost-of-living inflation adjustments to Medicaid dollar amounts occur quarterly, effective January 1, July 1, and October1 of each year. 1. Penalty Divisor. The daily transfer penalty divisor increased from $321.95/day to $330.19/day. This new penalty divisor is to be used when calculating transfer penalties for Medicaid applications filed on or after January 1, 2018. To illustrate the use of the penalty divisor, assume an Applicant for MA-LTC benefits makes a gift (or other transfer for less than fair market value) in the amount of $10,000 within the 60 months look-back period. Further assume that the gift is not exempted from the transfer penalties. Such a gift will result in to 30 days of ineligibility for MA-LTC benefits. ($10,000 divided by $330.19 equals 30.28 days; the partial day of ineligibility is ignored under applicable rules.) 2. Spousal Impoverishment. Spousal impoverishment guidelines have been adjusted as follows: a. The minimum community spouse resource allowance (“CSRA”) for 2018 is $24,720. b. The “standard” maximum CSRA is $123,600. 3. Home Equity Limitations. a. For a married recipient, there is no cap on the dollar amount of home equity. b. For a single applicant, the limit on home equity is now $572,000. 4. Home Maintenance Deduction. The home maintenance deduction for individuals applying for MA-LTC benefits for short-term stays has been increased to $772.10/month, for up to 6 months. 5. […]

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Feb 1, 2018 - Estate Planning

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Nearly Doubles, to $11,180,000, the Applicable Federal Estate Tax Exclusion Amount and GST Exemption for 2018

The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“2017 Tax Cuts Act”) P.L. 115-97, doubled the Estate and Gift tax “Applicable Exclusion Amount,” from $5 million to $10 million, for gifts made, and estates of decedents dying, after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. (These amounts were previously adjusted for inflation.) By increasing the applicable exclusion amount, the new law automatically increases the Generation Skipping Tax (“GST”) exemption. Code Sec. 2631(c). See my prior article entitled, “Tax Provisions Impacting Estate Planning In the New Tax Act.” However, the 2017 Tax Cuts Act changed the inflation index used after 2017 for the applicable exclusion amount and GST exemption. The IRS recently confirmed that the new law’s doubling of the basic exclusion amount, when adjusted for inflation based on the new index, produces a $11,180,000 Exemption figure for 2018. This is slightly less than double the $5,600,000 figure that the IRS had announced before enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This new figure reflects the application of the new C-CPI-U inflation factor to the 2018 adjustments for the applicable exclusion amount. The bottom line is, clients having aggregate estates valued less than $11,180,000 will not need to worry about the Federal Estate or Gift Tax for the next 10 years (when the current law sunsets). (Don’t forget, life insurance death benefits are included in your taxable estate.) Please call or email us if you have questions about the new Exemption Amount and how it impacts your current […]

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Dec 29, 2017 - Articles

Tax Provisions Impacting Estate Planning In the New Tax Act

The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“2017 Tax Cuts Act”) signed by the President on December 22, 2017, P.L. 115-97 (115th Cong., 1st Sess.), contains important tax provisions related to estate planning. The most important such provision is the doubling of the Applicable Exclusion Amount for Federal Estate and Gift Taxes, described in Paragraph 1 below. 1. Doubling the Applicable Exclusion Amount for Federal Estate and Gift Taxes. The new law doubles of the estate and gift tax “Applicable Exclusion Amount,” from $5 million to $10 million, for gifts made, and estates of decedents dying, after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. (These amounts were previously adjusted for inflation.) This means that by employing appropriate estate planning measures, a married couple’s total exemption may be increased from $10 million to $20 million. By increasing the applicable exclusion amount, the new law automatically increases the Generation Skipping Tax (“GST”) exemption. Code Sec. 2631(c). By way of Background: a. A federal “gift tax” is imposed on certain lifetime transfers (Code Sec. 2511), and a federal “estate tax” is imposed on certain transfers at death. (Code Sec. 2001) b. Under pre-2017 Tax Cuts Act law, the first $5 million (as adjusted for inflation in years after 2011) of transferred property was exempt from estate and gift tax. For estates of decedents dying and gifts made in 2018, this “basic exclusion amount” was $5.6 million ($11.2 million for a married couple). c. For estates of decedents dying and gifts […]

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Oct 30, 2017 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

Small Cars Can Come With Big Risks

    When Purchasing a Car, Safety Should Be A Priority. As Personal Injury Attorneys, at Drake, Hileman & Davis, we often see the difference the size a vehicle makes in how seriously someone is injured in an accident.  Frequently, consumers look at price, style, fuel economy and color when making a car selection, when they really should be looking at vehicle safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS“) found that some of the smallest cars have the highest death rates during car accidents.  Chuck Farmer, President of IIHS, has stated, “If you hit something bigger than you, you are more likely to die . . .   Physics matter. The bigger the vehicle, the safer you are in an accident.”  Specifically, an IIHS’ study found that the Hyundai Accent had the most accident deaths (104), between 2012 to 2015, out of the 208 models of cars that were analyzed. Other small cars, such as the Kia Rio, Scion tC, Chevrolet Spark, and Nissan Versa also ranked very high for deadly car accidents.[1] Hyundai defended its Accent, saying, “The Hyundai Accent meets or exceeds all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set by the U.S. government and performs well in various safety tests and is rated a 4-star overall by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).” [2] Bigger is Actually Better  While meeting certain safety standards is a minimum, there is no question that larger cars perform much better than smaller vehicles,  in automobile accidents. Cars like the Jeep Cherokee, Mazda […]

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Apr 11, 2017 - Articles

Sharing the Road: Six Tips for Motorists and Cyclists From a Personal Injury Lawyer

As a Doylestown personal injury attorney, this time of year brings with it awareness of an increased number of bicycles riders out on the country roads of Bucks County. Sharing the road with bicyclists, whether riding alone or as part of a cycle club, can be a challenge for many motor vehicle drivers. We thought this would be good time for both drivers and riders to be reminded of several tips in order to avoid accidents involving bicycles. Tips For Sharing the Road 1. Remember that operators of pedalcycles, including bicycles, when ridden on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. While cyclists cannot ride on freeways (limited access highways), they can on all other roads. Moreover, while cyclists have to ride on the right side of the road, they do not have to ride on the far right or shoulder of the road, unless they are moving slower than the prevailing speed of traffic at the time. Cyclists are not permitted to ride more than two abreast on any roadway. 2. Motor vehicle operators should always reduce their speed when approaching and passing a cyclist. Allow a sufficient amount of space, at least 3 feet or more between your vehicle and a cyclist. Be especially careful when approaching a hill or incline. Wait to pass a cyclist, only after you have determined that you can adequately see approaching traffic and yield appropriately. Always allow for an adequate distance when merging back into the desired […]

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