Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Adult Adoption

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

See, generally N.J.S.A. 2A:22-1 et seq.

In order to do an adult adoption, the adopter must be at least ten years older than the adoptee, and there must be some showing that a parent-child relationship exists, rather than there being some sort of financial or other ulterior motive for the adoption.

One of the happiest cases I have ever handled involved an adult adoption. Most times, people come to lawyers because they are faced with problems, and if they are made happy through the process it is often an accident, or at the expense of someone else. Here, we allowed two people to formalize a “parent-child” relationship they had had for a long time, and it made them both happy to know that not only did they recognize it, but the law now did as well.

If I Die Young, Bury Me In Facebook

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Lay me down in a bed of email…

Or maybe not? As this article would indicate, different companies have varying policies as to how accommodating they might be with your loved ones’ email and social media accounts after death. Apps like “If I Die” will continue to flourish as people crave the kind of certainty and security that they have in their “offline” affairs. The current state of online affairs is more of a mixed bag. Facebook will allow you to use a profile as a memorial, whereas Yahoo is not nearly as forgiving. Sometimes, you may even need to go to court in order to force companies to preserve important information.

It used to be even five years ago that such matters were not covered by formal policies, and that there was often little or nothing that a person could rely on if faced with such a problem. I anticipate that as this issue receives more attention, there will be an industry-wide standard for dealing with deceased loved ones’ social media and email accounts, and within the next five years or so there will be almost as much certainty in our online matters as those on paper. Of course, this security can’t come soon enough- many of us conduct the majority of our lives on computers, and there is no justification for the possible loss of that data.

Just remember, even if companies don’t prove to be as progressive as I think they will be, there is a way to avoid every policy they could adopt. Just put your passwords and other important information with your will, with any instructions you need to give your loved ones in the event of your demise.

Consumer Vigilante Justice: Continued

Friday, January 13th, 2012

In my last post I suggested that you might have some success by using the court system to get the attention of those big companies that are ignoring you. Here’s how you do it.

In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, corporations often have to retain an attorney to appear in matters involving more than about $5,000. If the dispute is over a few hundred dollars, many times the corporation can send a representative to defend the company. That representative is often a low-level managerial employee who has little or no experience with the court system, because this kind of tactic is not often employed by consumers. You can use their inexperience to your advantage.

Most small claims courts in this area will employ mediation as a tool for disposing of small claims cases. The logic is that both sides are better off making an agreement somewhere in the middle, rather than letting the judge decide a winner for legal reasons that might not be entirely clear to anyone. If you are seeking a refund or some other accommodation from a corporation, all you really wanted in the first place was an opportunity to be heard, and mediation is the perfect forum for that.

The only thing you need to be sure of, besides filling out the forms the court provides you correctly, is that you need to have a real cause of action (a problem, really) to file a case and avoid getting slapped around by the court. If you feel that the company hasn’t lived up to their side of the deal, it can be called a “breach of contract.” If they are not dealing with you fairly you can call it “breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing.” Even once you try to use legal terms of art, explain fully what your problem is and most judges, realizing you’re not an attorney, will do what they can to make your facts fit a legal paradigm.

Most of the time, though, it won’t come to that. A company has much better things to do than to send an employee in to try a case. If you want to get their attention, by the time you sue them you will most certainly have succeeded. At that point, they may be inclined to give you what you’re asking for (within reason) just to make the whole thing go away. It may have cost you some extra time and the court’s filing fees, but at least you got it resolved in your favor.

If you have any questions about how to pursue this strategy, or if you think you might just need a lawyer’s services because a company is treating you badly, feel free to call Carl at 609-452-8411 x117 for a phone consultation.

What a Struggling Business Must Do to Survive Under Financial Stress

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

This article was featured in a recent issue of the Mercer County Woman. It was written by Paul Maselli, a partner with the firm.

The continued success of a struggling business depends on the business owner’s ability to make prudent decisions under financial stress.  In 25 years of representing struggling businesses (and unpaid lenders), I have witnessed many bad business decisions.

A “struggling business” is one that has had past success in timely paying payroll, taxes, rent and other operating expenses, but finds itself in a situation where it is no longer selling enough products or services on a monthly basis to meet its monthly expenses.

The worst decision a business owner can make is to not pay taxes.  Delaying the payment of payroll withholding and employment taxes, sales taxes, etc. can be fatal to both the business and the business owner.  The government has little flexibility in negotiating payment plans or reducing the tax debt,  and strong collection powers.  Taxes are the first priority.

It is foolhardy to not pay rent if there is no place else to run the business.  A landlord has quick access to the courts to obtain an eviction which will effectively terminate the business.

The next priority is the payment of long-term debt to a creditor, such as a bank, with a lien on the business assets –  accounts receivable, machinery and equipment, inventory, etc.  Creditors with collateral can not act as quickly as the government or the landlord, but they do have expedited court remedies which can destroy the business.

Before missing a payment to a creditor with collateral, the business owner should  meet with that lender, disclose the problems, and attempt to negotiate a new payment plan.  Ignoring these types of creditors doesn’t make them go away, it just makes them angry and impedes the resolution process.

Trade creditors with no collateral have the most difficult time collecting which provides leverage in negotiating pay-outs. Trade creditors usually want to keep the struggling business as a customer if it has been a good customer over the years and will usually make an effort to resolve the situation.

Avoid the temptation to borrow on a line of credit to meet cash needs.  This can be fatal.  The credit line should be used only to cover the delay in collecting strong accounts receivable and should be repaid immediately when the customers’ payments come in.

On the other hand, borrowing money when the business is not generating enough sales to meet operating expenses is a temporary fix that will cause more damage in the long run.   If the company’s problems are not addressed because the company can borrow money, that money will soon run out and the problems will still be there.  Except now the problems include the repayment of the borrowed funds.

The best decision for a struggling business is to decide to seek professional help from a business consultant, accountant or lawyer with experience in providing advice to businesses.  While this may create an additional expense in a time when cash is short, it is the smartest decision for resolving the crisis.

A Primer on Aid and Attendance for Veterans

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

This is a guest post by Penny Rodenbaugh, a Certified Estate Planner, Certified Senior Advisor, Member of the National Ethics Bureau, and member of the National Notary Association. Penny provides services for senior citizens, the “sandwich” generation, “baby boomers,” veterans, business owners, and those in the midst of estate administration or divorce matters.

What is the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension benefit?

The Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension is a federal assistance program offering a monthly benefit payment from the Department of Veterans Affairs designed to provide care for veterans or surviving spouses who are disabled or frail and might have trouble living on their own. The benefit is paid in an income to the veteran or surviving spouse, not the care provider, and the funds can be used for anything, although most need the money to pay for needed care and medical expenses.

Who is eligible for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension benefit? According to the Department of Veterans Affairs website, Aid and Attendance Pension is a benefit paid in addition to monthly pension. This benefit may not be paid without eligibility to pension. A veteran may be eligible when the veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment. The veteran can also be eligible if bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, or a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.

While you may apply for Aid and Attendance Pension benefits by writing to your VA regional office, both I and Maselli Warren, P.C. offer extensive knowledge of the benefit and a host of services to assist you in the application process. To ensure the highest level of service and long term care assistance, we have dedicated our resources to create relationships with assisted living facilities, at home care providers and other senior advocates, and we host complimentary informational workshops in retirement communities across the nation.

Contact Maselli Warren, P.C. or Penny Rodenbaugh today to determine if you or a parent are eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits. Penny can be reached at (215) 353 1707, or at pennyandassociates@yahoo.com.