Resources

Category: Resources

Nov 11, 2020 - Car Accidents

OH DEER, IT’S THAT SEASON AGAIN: Six tips to avoid striking a deer and what to do if you do

  With the opening of bow season last month, together with greater activity due to mating season, we need to be reminded that deer accidents are most common from October through December.    Today there are an estimated 1.5 million deer in Pennsylvania.   November is the month in which you are most likely to have a deer-related collision.  If you drive in Pennsylvania, you have a 1 in 70 chance of being involved in a deer-related accident.   Only in West Virginia and Montana do you have a greater chance of striking a deer with your vehicle.  The most common time to strike a deer is between 6 PM and 9 PM and unfortunately deer kill approximately 120 people each year. So what can you do to be safer on the road during this season? Here are six tips. 1) Remember that deer travel in groups. If one deer successfully crosses the road in front of you, be sure to be looking for others that are soon to follow. Most people miss hitting the first deer they see and hit the second one. 2) Travel with a heightened state of awareness during this season. While deer cross roads at all hours of the day, they are more active at dusk and at dawn. If you are traveling when it is dark, use your high-beams as much as possible in order to see as much of the sides of the roadway as possible. Be aware of areas where you have seen deer […]

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Apr 28, 2020 - Articles

Considering Owning a Pet Tiger? What are the Legal Ramifications?

by Tom Blackburn, Esq. aka “Joe Mundane” We are now in the midst of the 2020 Covid-19 virus quarantine. As the months pass, it will be interesting to determine the winners and losers of this historical anomaly. The obvious winner in my household is my 6 year old Golden Retriever, Bree. Bree has benefitted substantially from the forced return and mandated house arrest of my college kids; along with the escalating opportunities for her to escort her family members in a parade like fashion around the neighborhood. When you pay attention, all the dogs in the neighborhood seem to confidently nod at each other with particular contentment. This makes you wonder if Covid-19 is related to a sinister world-wide canine conspiracy. The newscasters speak of the bats, but have we thought about investigating Fido? Another winner is Netflix. Very few folks could look the other way, after hearing the names “Joe Exotic”, or “The Tiger King,” or for that matter, the lady named “Baskin,” “Baskin,” I guess, could’ve, might’ve, allegedly, fed her loving husband, 20 years her senior, to a few of her rescued, though apparently still hungry, tigers. Well, we really had no choice in the matter. We all had to left click on that tiger icon to peer into what we very quickly realized was a bizarre, fast moving, train wreck of a documentary. Yet, getting back to the title of this article, if my eyes were not deceiving me, there were quite a few humans in that […]

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Apr 22, 2020 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

IF A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST AND . . .

The last Friday in April, is National Arbor Day, a day set aside to celebrate the role of trees in our lives and to promote tree planting and care. J. Sterling Morton is considered the founder of Arbor Day. In 1854 Morton and his wife moved from Detroit to the virtually treeless plains of Nebraska. The Nebraska pioneers needed trees for windbreaking, fuel, building materials, and shade from the hot prairie sun. Morton decided to use his role as editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper to promote tree planting in Nebraska. In 1872, the Nebraska Board of Agriculture accepted Morton’s resolution to set aside one day to plant trees. The Board declared April 10, 1872 to be Arbor Day, and offered prizes to both counties and individuals for the largest number of trees properly planted. On that day alone, 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska. Shortly thereafter the rest of the states began passing legislation to observe Arbor Day, with the actual date in April determined by the best time to plant trees in each particular state. While trees add to the visual landscape and provide many helpful benefits to people and the environment, they can present as hazards to motorists. Trees that are not properly maintained can block road signs and roadways. According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2017, 1,581 fatal crashes in the United States were caused by obscured vision, including poorly maintained trees and shrubbery. Dead and diseased trees can also fall on cars and roadways, […]

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Apr 11, 2020 - Articles

BEWARE OF COVID -19 SCAMS

    When we as a nation face challenging times, most of us pull together to help one another out. Unfortunately, some people see any crisis as an opportunity for personal advantage. The current pandemic is no exception. Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Small Business Administration have issued warnings alerting consumers to the nature of certain scams that are being used by criminals during this time of crisis. Listed below are some helpful tips for all of us. Ignore Online and Door-to-Door Solicitations For Vaccinations And Home Test Kits There are no products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 at this time. The FDA has stated that there are no approved vaccines, drugs or treatment products currently available to cure or prevent the virus. The FTC and FDA have issued joint warning letters to various sellers of products including teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver. Hang up on Robocalls Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes to help in processing your coronavirus stimulus check. A robocall trying to sell you something is illegal unless the company has your written permission to call you that way. Watch For Emails Claiming to Be From the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or WHO (World Health Organization) Use sites like coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus to get the latest information. And don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal […]

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Feb 18, 2019 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

Several Reminders From Highway Safety Law Awareness Week

Did you know that this week (February 18- 25) is “Highway Safety Law Awareness Week?” By raising awareness regarding certain traffic laws, with which you may not be too familiar, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Police hope to make everyone safer on our roadways. This year’s focus is on a variety of lesser know traffic laws, as well as some changes to our existing laws. These include, Pennsylvania’s Blind Pedestrian Law; the Use of Headphones While Driving; the Ride-on-Red law; the Unattended Motor Vehicle law (those with remote car starters should especially read this); the Clear Snow and Ice from your Vehicle Law (see our previous article here); the Steer Clear Law; the Turn Around, Don’t Drown Law; as well as penalty changes to our existing DUI laws. In addition to the “Clear the Snow from Your Vehicle Law,” we previously wrote about, we think that it is important to be reminded, about two additional laws that are the focus of this year’s Awareness Week. The first law we would like to look at in more detail is the “Unattended Motor Vehicle Law” and the second is the “Turn Around, Don’t Drown Law.” On a cold winter morning, who doesn’t want to wait in the house while your car is getting warmed-up before heading out on the road? But do you know what the laws are in Pennsylvania regarding leaving a vehicle running that is unattended? 75 Pa. C.S.A. Sec. 3701, prohibits anyone who is “in charge” of a motor […]

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Feb 4, 2019 - Custody

REMOVAL OF CHILD FROM ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

By TOM BLACKBURN One issue in family practice that causes substantial alarm, is when one parent threatens to remove one or more children from the area of the original residence to either another state or another distant location, against the will of the other parent. We receive inquiries on both sides of this issue. On one hand, a parent’s desire to remove the child from an area of violence, hardship and distress, is understandable as they may well see greener pastures, physically, emotionally and financially, in another state or jurisdiction. Perhaps a better job is offered or the encouragement of multiple family members await the children in this new location. On the other hand, this threat of removal can be a devastating blow to the other parent. The threat manifests cries of panic and injustice. The ability to see their child and to maintain input in decision making could be drastically reduced because of the distance involved in the relocation. Often a discerning eye can see that this threat of removal is really an escape from responsibility, or a grasp for complete control avoiding the consideration of the other parent. Criminal Offense? It is first necessary to understand that the mere act of removing a child from the jurisdiction against the will of the other parent, without Court approval, is often a criminal act. Pursuant to applicable law, “A person commits an offense if he knowingly or recklessly takes or entices any child under the age of 18 years from […]

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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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