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Auto Accidents – Fall Injuries – All Other Injuries

Personal Injury

Schimmerling Law Offices

You Deserve Schimmerling Injury Law Offices on Your Side

  • From Law Office of Michael J. Giangrieco

    Will my estate (my property) be subject to tax when I die?

    There is a special tax, called either the estate tax (in NY) or inheritance tax (in PA), that may apply to an estate based upon the value of the assets you own when you die. Basically, a “snapshot” is taken of your assets as of the date of death. The assets are then valued based upon their “fair market value”. “Fair market value” is not what you paid for the assets, but what you could obtain if you sold the assets to an unrelated buyer. Certain deductions apply, the most important being the marital deduction for anything that passes to the surviving spouse. In New York, the net estate (after deductions) must exceed $1 million before the tax applies. The tax is at a rate of 6% to 12% of the value of the entire estate (not just the excess over $1 million). In Pennsylvania, anything passing to a spouse is not subject to tax, but children and grandchildren pay an inheritance tax of 4.5%, parents, brothers and sisters pay an inheritance tax of 12%, and unrelated beneficiaries pay an inheritance tax of 15%. Unlike in New York, there is not a $1 million floor. There also is a federal estate tax, with a 40% rate, but it only applies if the estate exceeds $5 million. As part of the estate planning process, we explore various options that may be available to minimize the estate tax.

  • From Schimmerling Law Offices

    The Value of Having a Personal Injury Lawyer

    If you get in an accident and want to make a claim, one of the first things you have to decide is whether to use a lawyer, or whether to make a claim against the wrongdoer and his or her insurance company yourself. For many reasons, if you are hurt in an accident, you should get a lawyer's help rather than try to do it yourself. Here are some of the main reasons.

    • You can get a free consultation to discuss and evaluate your case. An experienced personal injury lawyer can tell you how strong your case is. Also, because a lawyer knows the many different things that accident victims can recover money for, you can get a good idea about how much money you're legally entitled to recover.
    • Your lawyer can help you on related matters. For example, your lawyer can recommend doctors who are specialists for treating your injuries and refer you to car repair facilities.
    • You need someone on your side who's experienced in dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies have many people working for them. Often, they'll try to avoid or delay paying valid claims, or offer unfairly low amounts to settle claims. Accident victims need someone to assert their rights to get what they are legally entitled to. An experienced personal injury lawyer, who knows how insurance companies work, is the best person to do this.
    • You pay only if you win. A key benefit of using a lawyer for personal injury claims is the contingency fee. A contingency fee is a fee that's paid only if you win. It is typically paid out of the recovery. Contingency fees are great because they let anyone who has a good case get legal help. Because of contingency fees, accident victims who don't have much money can win claims against large insurance companies.
    • You will likely get more money. For most accident victims, this is the main reason for using a lawyer. A study was done which shows that auto accident victims who use lawyers receive about 25% more money than those who do not use lawyers even after deducting all costs.
    If you needed surgery, you would not operate on yourself. The same concept holds true in law if you are hurt in an accident, you should seek a professional's help. Not only will a lawyer make recovering damages a lot easier, but you'll have a better chance of recovering money, and you'll likely get more money.

  • From Battisti & Garzo, PC

    I’ve been arrested. What do I do?

    We're here for you when you need us --24 hours a day--7 days a week. With our experienced criminal defense team on your side, you won't have to worry. Our team is highly qualified to handle any type of criminal case, whether it's a felony, misdemeanor, or violation. Call us at 877-724-8529

  • From Battisti & Garzo, PC

    What are my rights as a client of Battisti & Garzo, P.C.?

    Click here to see a Statement of Client's Rights

  • From Law Office of Michael J. Giangrieco

    Probate seems to be a fairly complicated process. Is there any way for a person to take steps prior to death to avoid or minimize the impact of probate?

    Probate only applies to assets held in the decedent’s name alone. There are several ways for a person to own assets so that probate can be avoided. 1. Jointly owned assets which are titled in the name of the decedent and another person automatically pass to the joint owner upon the death of the other joint owner. The surviving joint owner only needs to give a death certificate to have the joint asset put in his or her name. With real estate, the property automatically passes to the joint owner even without a new deed. It is important to note that the asset must be titled as “joint tenants with the right of survivorship.” If the asset is titled as “tenants in common” then it will be subject to probate and not pass automatically to the joint owner. 2. Another way to avoid probate is to have a designated beneficiary for the account. For Life Insurance, IRA’s, retirement benefits and annuities, the owner can prepare and submit a beneficiary designation form setting forth who will receive the account after his or her death. Starting several years ago, a person can now name a beneficiary for regular investment and brokerage accounts. This is accomplished by using a “Transfer on Death” (TOD) form. It is important to note that a decedent’s Will does not govern the distribution of jointly owned assets or assets with designated beneficiaries. Thus, it is critical to coordinate beneficiary designations and jointly owned assets with the will provisions. 3. A third way to avoid probate is for the person to set up a revocable trust. We have talked about trusts before, but this one is different. The person who sets up the trust is not only its creator but also the trustee and the beneficiary. By putting assets into the trust prior to death, the trust will control the distribution of the decedent’s assets rather than the will, thereby avoiding probate. Revocable trusts have become quite popular and we will talk more about the pros and cons of a revocable trust next time.