Lancaster Law Blog

Lancaster Law Blog

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Legal Links – November 25, 2015

Posted in Legal Links

Legal Links will be taking a break for the Thanksgiving holiday.  We will be spending time with family and friends, eating, shopping and taking part in countless other activities.  It is also a perfect time to reflect on all of the things we are thankful for and take time to help others in need.  There is an inspiring story from NYC, thanks to Carol Suchman, a New York philanthropist, who decided to purchase the inventory of an out-of-business toy store she was walking past on her way home one day.  In one grand gesture, Suchman purchased toys to donate to homeless children, helped the business owner by purchasing inventory that would otherwise need to be disposed of, and hopefully inspired countless others to pay it forward.  Purchasing a toy store isn’t the only way to pay it forward – think about how even one small act of kindness can make the world a nicer place as we begin this holiday season. You never know how your small act of kindness will inspire others to pay it forward.

From all of us at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Legal Links – November 20, 2015

Posted in Legal Links

On Fridays, we compile and post Legal Links, a list of legal news, reported cases, community events and topics of interest to Lancaster residents and readers of the Lancaster Law Blog.

  1. The Extra Give. The Extraordinary Give is Lancaster County’s largest day of online giving, helping charities that support a wide variety of causes impacting Lancaster County. As of this writing, there have been more than 22,000 gifts totaling over $3.2 million.

It’s not too late to contribute on behalf of your favorite local charity: download the app built by the talented folks at Industrial Resolution or visit the website at

To check out some of the individuals and organizations that have already supported one or more charities, search for #IGiveExtra or #ExtraGive on Facebook or Twitter.

  1. Only in Central PA… Cheering crowds at the Harrisburg Marathon witnessed a somewhat unusual sight at this years’ race: Leroy Stolzfus clocks a 3:05 at Harrisburg Marathon in full Amish garb.
  1. Bridge Repairs. Hopefully you haven’t been caught in traffic heading east on Route 30 from York to Lancaster over the past week, which was caused by a truck driver transporting a backhoe that didn’t quite clear an overpass.

PennDOT has now announced that it is seeking approximately $400,000 for crash damage from the responsible parties.

  1. Turkey Prep. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays – so much so that I have committed to not one, but five Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving dinners. I’m also committed to ensure that the highest standards of turkey preparation have been followed, which must include a proper spatchcocking.

Cooking a turkey and want to speed up the process? Learn how, courtesy of Garlic Poet executive Chef Kurt Wewer, here: How to spatchcock your Thanksgiving turkey

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Lancaster County Small Business Tax Update

Posted in Taxation

The Lancaster County Tax Collection Bureau ( recently clarified their stance on the quarterly tax return and payment obligation for individuals who earn at least $25,000.00 per year and are either self-employed or do not have the tax withheld from his or her paycheck. These individuals must file quarterly tax returns and make quarterly estimated tax payments, or will be subject to interest and penalties for any tax that was not paid by the due date, plus a $25.00 late fee. Quarterly payments are due 30 days after the end of each calendar quarter.

In the past, the Tax Collection Bureau has taken a more forgiving approach with these taxpayers, foregoing the fine and the quarterly payment obligation even though the Bureau revised its Supplemental Information Regarding Annual and Quarterly Tax Return Filing Requirements and Filing Extensions ( on January 1, 2014. Continue Reading

Legal Links – November 6, 2015

Posted in Legal Links

On Fridays, we compile and post Legal Links, a list of legal news, reported cases, community events and topics of interest to Lancaster residents and readers of the Lancaster Law Blog.

1.  Happy #LoveYourLawyerDay! Since there is a ‘day’ for everything from Marmot Day (February 2) to Make Your Bed Day (September 11, also every day in my house or I get grounded), why not celebrate Love Your Lawyer Day, which is today, November 6, 2015?

In case you aren’t quite up for it, take solace in that November 6 is also Saxophone Day and my personal favorite, Nachos Day.

We’d love you to love us not just on Love Your Lawyer Day, but every day – but if love is too much of a commitment, maybe you could just like us on Facebook?

2.  Hey, that’s my hotspot! The Federal Communications Commission recently fined Hilton Hotels for its conduct during an investigation into whether the hotel chain blocked customers’ personal Wi-Fi hotspots. Using a Wi-Fi hotspot on your cell phone can not only save you from expensive fees charged by hotels for internet access, but can also help avoid security concerns while using public networks.

3.  Lock your car doors, folks. Why? You might have an unlikely intruder – the police. At least if you live in New Haven, Connecticut, that is. As an initiative to encourage the public to lock their car doors and prevent theft by actual thieves, police are confiscating items from unlocked cars, and holding the them for pickup at the local police station.

According to a statement by a New Haven police officer, there is an exception in Connecticut law that would normally require a search warrant for this type of seizure that permits the initiative’s activities.

4.  Law Review. In the October 2015 edition of Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly, a scholarly article provides an overview of the law in Pennsylvania as it relates to civil liability for gun storage. Check it out here at page 152: Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly – October 2015, Pennsylvania Civil Liability for Negligent Gun Storage.

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Reflections on Leadership Lancaster – About One Month In

Posted in Leadership Lancaster, Outside the Law

As a proud member of the Leadership Lancaster Core Class of 2016, I will be posting periodic updates of my experiences in the program. Learn more about Leadership Lancaster at or feel free to contact me directly with any questions you may have.

“Hi, I’m Tim. By the way, the best Leadership Lancaster class was the class of 2004.”

After our first session of Orientation in September, the Core Class of 2016 was introduced to a group of approximately 250 alumni and friends of Leadership Lancaster. Nearly every alum that I met had a similar introduction to the one above – they claimed that their class was the best class, although they were sure that our class would be good too.

This introduction to the program was an eye-opening experience. In the relatively short time that I’ve been involved in Leadership Lancaster, the passion for helping the Lancaster County Community and connectedness of the staff, board, alumni and current Core Class members has been special. Continue Reading

Legal Links – October 30, 2015 – Special Halloween 2015 Edition

Posted in Legal Links

On Fridays, we compile and post Legal Links, a list of legal news, reported cases, community events and topics of interest to Lancaster residents and readers of the Lancaster Law Blog.

Only in Salem, Massachusetts– Self-proclaimed witch, Lori Bruno-Sforza filed suit against Christian Day, for harassment.  Day is “the world’s best-known warlock” or at least that is what his website claims.  Bruno-Sforza claims that Day has been calling her in the middle of the night, using vulgar language for the last three years.  She also believes Day has spoken ill of her on the internet.  While admitting to some snide comments on Facebook, Day insists he is not responsible for the phone calls.  A harassment prevention order was issued.  Read on for Day and Bruno-Sforza’s reaction to the Order.  No word on if the harassment order covers spells and enchantments.

From all of us at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, we hope you have a safe and happy Halloween weekend! Here are some Trick or Treat safety tips courtesy of the City of Lancaster and the Lancaster City Police Department: Trick or Treat Night & Halloween Safety Tips.

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Legal Links – October 23, 2015

Posted in Legal Links

On Fridays, we compile and post Legal Links, a list of legal news, reported cases, community events and topics of interest to Lancaster residents and readers of the Lancaster Law Blog.

1.  That’s Not Yelping Anyone. We fell for it too. In the latest example of why you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet, Yelp is not suing South Park for $10 million dollars, or any sum of money for that matter.

A satirical article recently went viral describing the “lawsuit,” which was supposedly in response to a recent episode of South Park, “You’re Not Yelping.” Read more about the farce here: No, Yelp Is Not Suing ‘South Park’ for $10 Million

If you’re interested, here’s the original article that started the controversy.

2.  Think Local, Drink Local – Zeroday and Arooga’s help local Habitat for Humanity Chapter. Harrisburg’s Zeroday Brewing Company and Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar have teamed up to benefit a local Habitat for Humanity chapter. Learn more about the partnership and how you can help here.

This isn’t the first time a local brewery and Habitat for Humanity have crossed paths: in 2014, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore opened in the former location of Tröegs brewery in Harrisburg. Learn more about how the ReStore helps Habitat for Humanity and the local community here: Used Goods, New Homes: Harrisburg’s ReStore helps Habitat for Humanity fulfill its mission

3.  The Other Side of the Story. The much maligned story about a woman who sued her 12 year old nephew because she broke her wrist when he greeted her at a party four years ago has another side to the story: she was never comfortable suing him in the first place.

This story reminded me of another famously misunderstood and misreported legal story where, when considering all the facts, you might change your mind: The Facts of the McDonald’s Coffee Case.

4.  It’s Official: Wegmans is coming to Lancaster County. Add Wegmans to Lancaster County’s impressive list of options to buy food. It’s not here just yet, though – the store is anticipated to open sometime in 2018. Read more about the project here.

In the meantime, don’t miss out on the many road-side stands and farmer’s markets that Lancaster County has to offer, including RKG favorites Lancaster Central Market and The Green Dragon.

5.  National Estate Planning Awareness Week. We are wrapping up National Estate Planning Awareness Week.  Have you been following our articles on the Lancaster Law Blog?   Read more about preparing to meet with an attorney, choosing a fiduciary and dying without a Will.

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Second Marriage and Intestacy (dying without a Will)

Posted in Estate Planning

I’m sure you’ve heard or used the phrase, “hit by a bus.”  Have you ever known anyone who was hit by a bus?  How did that phrase become the standard for conveying a catastrophic injury?  A staff editor at the New York times offers some explanations here.  Now that you know some of the possible origins of this catastrophic cliché, I will employ it here.  Let’s say for example, you are in your second marriage and have two children from your first.  You are hit by a bus and succumb to your injuries.  You have no Will, but you and your spouse have talked about it and you are confident that he or she will follow your wishes.  Those wishes happen to be that your spouse gets everything, but will continue to take care of your children.  Or perhaps that everything will go to your kids.  Or a myriad of other scenarios. As long as you have thought about it and properly communicated it to your spouse, that is all you need right?  I mean you married your spouse, you trust them.  Everything will be fine, right? Unfortunately, more often than not, that is wrong.

Trusting your spouse to follow through with your wishes does not guarantee that your wishes can or will be followed.  First, sadly, there is no guarantee that your spouse will actually follow your wishes.  Even if you took the extra step to communicate what you wanted to happen with your assets on your death to another family member or trust friend, if you did not draft a Will, there is no way to legally enforce those wishes. Continue Reading

What is a Fiduciary and How do I Pick One?

Posted in Estate Planning

A fiduciary is a fancy catch all word for personal representative (which is another way of saying executor, executrix or administrator, administratix), guardians, agents, and trustees who are all subject to the jurisdiction of the Orphans’ Court in Pennsylvania.  Orphans’ Court: what is that and how does it apply to me? Unlike Criminal or Civil Court, Orphans’ Court is a court of protection.  The court acts as a protector and supervisor of the rights of those who cannot protect themselves.  This means the court has jurisdiction over things like guardianships, will contests, adoptions, power of attorney issues, and a myriad of other things.  They can keep an eye on agents to ensure they are acting within their fiduciary duties. Fiduciary duties vary depending on the particular fiduciary position a person holds, however the basic tenants are to act honestly and in the best interest of the person or estate you are acting on behalf of or for.  A lawyer can best advise you as to what the exact description of your fiduciary duties are if you ever find yourself in that position.  Acting as a fiduciary is a big responsibility and not one to be taken lightly.  So how should you go about selecting someone to act on your behalf? Continue Reading

How to Prepare to Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney

Posted in Estate Planning

“Oh that wasn’t so bad.”  “You weren’t as intimidating as I thought a lawyer would be.” “I’m glad that’s done!”  “Oh how I dreaded this meeting!”

These are all things I have heard clients say after we meet to discuss their estate plans.  For a lot of people the idea of thinking about their own mortality is difficult.  But add speaking with someone else about it and planning for all the what ifs out there? Forget about it.  They’d rather have their teeth drilled without Novocain. But it doesn’t have to be that scary or difficult.  When I meet with clients for the first time to discuss their estate planning documents, I first ask them which documents we are drafting.  I do this because many times people are not aware that a good estate plan starts with three basic documents- a Will, a Financial Power of Attorney, and a Healthcare Power of Attorney/ Advanced Healthcare Directive (for more information on these three documents, check out our blog article The Three Estate Planning Documents You Need).

After explaining all three documents, we determine which ones are necessary for that particular client.  While I usually strongly recommend that a client have all three, there can be situations where one or two of the documents are not needed.  I generally start with the Will.  Believe it or not, in a majority of cases, that is the easiest document to gather information for, especially when my clients come prepared. Continue Reading