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Q: My brother recently died. His domestic partner of 15-17 years has employed a lawyer who has sent me and my other 3 siblings a letter asking us to renounce all claims to his estate. We feel that our brother may have left some financial parts of his estate to us as beneficiaries of those parts (i.e. life insurance or 401k’s). His domestic partner (not legally married) has told us that she can’t establish any legal claim to his estate unless we totally renounce all claims to his estate. We only want to receive whatever my brother intended us to have. We are happy to let the rest of his estate be claimed by his partner. We want to know if we must renounce all claims in order for her to proceed and what is the best way for us to proceed to resolve this issue.

Answer:

Ellen S. Fischer, Esq., from the law firm of Fenningham, Dempster & Coval LLP: I am so sorry to hear that your brother died, but I also commend you and your siblings for considering his partner’s loss as well. Your brother has obviously died without having prepared a Last Will and Testament... [Read More]

Q: I’m a 19 year old woman living with my former coworker. We bought a $15K car back in May and I was accidentally the co-signer without my knowledge. We got the car because I had a 750 credit rating and my roommate's credit was 500. After we got the car in May, within a week and a half she totaled the car and took me off the insurance policy. Keep in mind she hasn’t made a single payment on the car. ‘Til this day the car sits in the towing company as abandoned because she never had comp and collision. I’m at my wits end. Any suggestions here?

Answer:

Cary L. Flitter, Esq., from Flitter Milz, P.C.: The situation you describe is common. We get calls every week from folks who cosign knowingly, and from others who didn’t really understand or appreciate what they were getting into. ...[Read More]

Q: The Sheriff recently came to my house and handed me a bunch of legal documents. One says “COMPLAINT.” Another one is titled “NOTICE TO DEFEND” and says that I have been sued and that I should take the paper to a lawyer at once. What should I do?

Answer:

Michael J. Lyon, Esq., from Walsh Pancio, LLC: First – do not panic.  The Complaint and Notice to Defend indicate that another person or party has filed a lawsuit against you.  You are not in any immediate trouble simply because a lawsuit has been filed...[Read More]

Q:My boss fired me today without any reason and without any warning.  Can I sue him for wrongful termination?

Answer:

Harold M. Goldner, Esq. from Kraut Harris, PC: Probably not for “wrongful termination,” but that doesn’t mean your firing was lawful. Pennsylvania is an “at-will” state, which means you can be fired at any time for a good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all...[Read More]

Q:Should I take a breathalyzer or blood test if requested by law enforcement at a DUI stop?

Answer:

Steven F. Fairlie, Esq. from Fairlie & Lippy, PC: The answer depends on your circumstances. Refusal of formal BAC testing will result in the suspension of your driver's license for at least one year even if you are ultimately found not guilty of DUI...[Read More]

Q: I'm a recent design school graduate with a degree in fine arts (BFA). While interviewing for a job, a prospective employer questioned whether some of my online portfolio was “truly original,” or whether I had copied it from someone else. I took offense to this initially, until she sent me links to a major retail website that’s selling prints of my work without my permission. I’ve since found several other websites selling prints and merchandise that include some of my original designs. Do I have a case against these retailers?

Answer:

Cary B. Hall, Esq. from the Law Offices of Cary B. Hall, LLC: It is unfortunate to hear that you have had this experience.  As a general rule, the creator of a work is the owner of all copyright interests in the work...[Read More]

Q: What can happen to property in a storage facility if rent is not paid?

Answer:

Kevin Cornish, Esq. from High Swartz Attorneys at Law LLP: Have you ever seen an episode of Storage Wars and wondered, can someone legally sell property in a storage facility? Or, how can they legally do that? Storage Wars takes place in California...[Read More]

Q: A forty-year-old friend of mine lived with his mother and seven-year-old daughter for the child’s entire life until his recent death.   He had legal custody of the child with the exception of the two weekends a month the child was with her mother; for a period of time, these visitations included required supervision due to drug convictions and a record of abuse of her oldest child.  Although the mother is currently clean and undergoing court-mandated drug monitoring, she has been in-and-out of rehab and prison for five of the child’s seven years, and has expressed little interest in being involved in her life. Through dubious means, the child’s mother obtained unsupervised custody the day after my friend’s funeral, is refusing to return the child to her grandmother, and has ignored all attempts at communication.  Although a custodian in-case-of-death was not established in the custody order, it would seem to be in the best interest of the child to remain with the grandmother rather than with a mother she has never known and who appears only interested in obtaining custody now for financial reasons.  Does the child’s grandmother have any recourse to obtain custody?

Answer:

David K. Bifulco, Esq., from the law office of David Kennedy Bifulco P.C.: In short, yes. In all custody cases, the judge starts from the premise of what is in the best interest of the child. That is the goal of any child custody case...[Read More]

Q: I understand sports gambling may be legal in Pennsylvania as early as the start of the NFL season. I have established a business in Montgomery County and was curious whether I could apply for a license, and if so, what will be required to do so?

Answer:

Michael J. Lyon, Esq., from Walsh Pancio, LLC: At the present time, no. While sports gambling is, in theory, "legal" in Pennsylvania, businesses that are not casinos are not eligible to obtain a license to operate a "sportsbook," or any program for taking sports wagers legally...[Read More]

Q: My father has been saying for years that our family business would be mine when he retires. He’s been less involved with the day-to-day in recent years, and informed me this week he’ll be closing up shop in July when our lease is up, and moving to the shore with his new girlfriend. I have family members, customers, and suppliers who can attest to this, but can an unwritten promise like this be enforced in Montgomery County?

Answer:

Jeffrey S. Feldman, Esq., from The Feldman Firm, LLC: Depending upon the circumstances, yes.  Unwritten promises can be enforced under Pennsylvania law under several different legal theories, each of which has its own rules and exceptions...[Read More]

Q: My friend told me to find a collaborative lawyer for my divorce. I am not really sure what that is. Can someone explain this to me and tell me if there are collaborative lawyers in Montgomery County?

Answer:

Ellen S. Fischer, Esq., from the law firm of Fenningham, Dempster & Coval LLP:Collaborative Divorce is a no court alternative to the traditional litigated divorce, child custody, property distribution, and support cases. Each spouse or partner retains a collaboratively trained family law attorney... [Read More]

Q: Our 28-year-old son is bipolar and has refused to take his medication. We are dealing with the aftermath of his second interaction with the police. Is it possible to get him admitted to a care facility without his cooperation?

Answer:

Brian T. Newman, Esq., from the law firm of Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C.:From your question, I can tell you are good parents that truly care about your son’s well-being, but before taking action to force your son into mental health treatment, you should be aware of the process and possible consequences it can have.. [Read More]

Q: What is "full tort" and "limited tort" and what is the difference between the two?

Answer:

Jimmy C. Chong, Esq., Chong Law Firm: As a personal injury attorney, when I ask a potential client who has been in a car accident if he or she has full tort or limited tort coverage, the response I receive most often is: "I have full coverage." There is a huge difference between full tort and full coverage.. [Read More]

Q: Can you be criminally charged for trash-talking on social media?

Answer:

Cary B. Hall, Esq., Law Offices of Cary B. Hall, LLC: Short answer: yes. Depending on your comments, what you post on social media sites could absolutely result in both criminal charges and a conviction).. [Read More]

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