Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP is proud to sponsor the Junior League of Lancaster’s 16th Annual Author’s Luncheon featuring bestselling author, novelist and short story writer Alice Hoffman.  I am particularly excited about this event because I am an active member of the Junior League of Lancaster and I have the honor of chairing this year’s luncheon.

Ms. Hoffman’s most notable works include Practical Magic, its prequel, The Rules of Magic, and Dovekeepers, a New York Times bestseller.

The Author’s Luncheon will take place on Friday, November 30, 2018 at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square. The program starts at noon, but the doors will open at 11:00 AM leaving plenty of time to enjoy a book signing with Ms. Hoffman, raffle, silent auction and cash bar.  Tickets for the luncheon are $75.00 ($35.00 for students) and can be purchased on the Junior League of Lancaster’s website. Continue Reading The Junior League of Lancaster’s 16th Annual Author’s Luncheon Featuring Alice Hoffman

Admittedly, I was not always a country music fan but over the years my tastes in music have changed and, with the crossover of country music into more mainstream popular music, I find myself liking country music more and more.  There is something enjoyable and uplifting about the relatively wholesome lyrics. Let’s face it, if I have to ask my kids to make sure they are listening to a “clean” version of a song one more time, my head may explode.  In addition to my growing love for country music, I love being an adoption attorney.  It is one of the few areas of law in which I practice that almost always brings me joy and a true sense of accomplishment. So, imagine the overwhelming happiness I felt when driving with my son in the car and he played Thomas Rhett’s song “Life Changes”Continue Reading What Does Thomas Rhett Really Know About Adoption?

This post is part of our ongoing series translating the lawyer-gibberish of Pennsylvania lawsuits into something understandable. For the definitions of the terms in bold check out the post that launched this series. A list of the posts in the series is at the end of this article.

The lawyers have exchanged documents setting out the claims and defenses. But before you get to trial, you get to gather evidence to support your case (and figure out what cards the other side has to play). This process is called “Discovery” and there are a few tools that can be used.

Asking Written Questions (Interrogatories and Request for Admissions)

One of the first tools your lawyer is likely to use are Interrogatories. These are written questions to the other side. The other party, helped by their lawyer, must answer the questions within 30 days (although extensions are commonly given for any type of discovery if its early in the case). Common Interrogatories include things like:

  • what witnesses might have information about this case?
  • do you have an expert witness?
  • what are your damages?

Continue Reading Explaining PA Lawsuits Using Plain Language (Part IV) – Who’s On First

Kim Carter PatersonRussell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP is pleased to announce that Kim Carter Paterson has joined the firm’s expanding Trusts and Estates practice group. Kim previously served clients in Lancaster and surrounding communities for more than 20 years in private practice with Blakinger Thomas and will continue to provide personal service with the added convenience of Russell, Krafft & Gruber’s satellite offices in Willow Street and Ephrata.

Kim works closely with individuals and families to develop and implement estate plans that are tailored to their unique needs, including special needs trusts, long-term care planning, charitable giving and various tax planning options for complex estate plans. She also assists families with all aspects of estate and trust administration.  Kim represents clients in Orphans’ Court proceedings, such as guardianship actions for the appointment of guardians for incapacitated persons and minors, spousal elections and fiduciary accountings and adjudications. Her practice includes a particular emphasis on legal issues often encountered by the elderly.  Kim is also certified to appear before the United States Board of Veterans’ Affairs to represent veterans and their spouses in claims for veterans’ pension benefits.

Kim has been active in the Lancaster community throughout her legal career.  She is a current member of the Planned Giving Council for Hospice and Community Care and is a past member of the Boards of Excentia, Hospice of Lancaster County, No Longer Alone Ministries, S. June Smith Center and National Wild Turkey Federation, Southern End Strutters Chapter. Kim is a founding member and former secretary of the Manor Softball Board.

Kim is a member of the Pennsylvania and Lancaster Bar Associations and is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court, Eastern and Middle Districts, the Supreme Court of the United States and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

As I’m sure you’re aware from the constant barrage of political advertisements, we are less than a week away from Election Day in 2018 which is Tuesday, November 6. As an employer, what are your legal obligations to your employees with respect to time off for voting?

To regular readers of the Lancaster Law Blog, it should come as no surprise that the answer is “it depends” – in this case, primarily it depends on what state your employees are located in. In some states, Pennsylvania included, employers have no legal obligation to give employees time off to vote.

That being said, the majority of states do provide time off in order to vote with certain requirements by statute. A summary of your state’s voting laws can be found here: Workplace Fairness – State Laws on Voting Rights/Time Off To Vote. Be sure to check with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction to confirm the impact of voting laws on you and your business.

Just because there is no legal obligation to give time off doesn’t preclude voluntary employer accommodations for voting. Employers may permit time off, flexible work schedules such as allowing extra time over lunch, arriving late or leaving early in order to accommodate voting. For example, Russell, Krafft & Gruber permits flexible work hours on Election Day in order to allow our employees to vote. Also, several of our attorneys volunteer their time at the polls.

In order to check your voter registration status in Pennsylvania, check out Pennsylvania Voter Services’ Voter Registration Status tool.

If you’re registered to vote, find your polling location and the hours you’ll be able to vote here: www.gettothepolls.com.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with  employers and employees.

When it comes to seeking custody of their grandchildren, grandparents face many challenges. Between navigating the impact such an effort has on a grandparent’s relationship with their own child against whom they are filing for custody and establishing standing to file for custody, grandparents in this situation face a difficult path.

Grandparents can attempt to obtain standing in any of the following three ways:

  • the grandparents stand in loco parentis to the child, meaning that they are acting in place of the parents;
  • the grandparents do not stand in loco parentis, but they have a prior relationship with the child and either the child has been deemed dependent by the court; the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity; or the child has resided with the grandparents for at least 12 months and has been recently removed from the grandparents’ home by a parent; or
  • the grandparents have a sustained, substantial and sincere interest in the child and neither parent has any form of care and control of the child.

You can read a more in-depth analysis on the third form of standing in my previous post, which can be found here.

In some cases, the path is made more difficult where two sets of grandparents are attempting to gain custody of their grandchild(ren) at the same time. Recently, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued an opinion clarifying the provision of the custody statute that allows grandparents to seek custody when the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity and two sets of grandparents are seeking custody of a child. Continue Reading More Love to Go Around: The Pennsylvania Superior Court Clarifies Standing Rules Where Two Sets of Grandparents Seek Custody

“I’m so confused!  The woman at the bank said I have to keep this account here.  The guy at the insurance company said I should really do this.  And my friend said she didn’t do any of this.  I don’t know what to do!”

The above is a general excerpt of conversations I have with Executors all the time.  The first few months of handling an estate can be tough.  You have just lost someone close to you and now you need to sort out what they left behind and are dealing with so many people on so many matters.  You will get advice from almost everyone you encounter.  You will hear stories about how the person you are interacting with handled it.  And you will most certainly interact with someone who will adamantly insist they know the law and what they are telling you is the exact opposite of what your attorney told you.  Or at least you think it is the exact opposite.  Come to think of it, now you are not so sure because you have heard so many different things from so many different people. Continue Reading But my Friend Said… What to do When You Get Conflicting Advice

We’ve noticed a pattern recently. It is often that I receive a call from a client or a relative of a client the day someone dies asking what they need to do. A person bereft with emotion, overwhelmed, and sometimes in a state of shock just trying to make sense of everything coming at them at once. My advice is always the same: Take a deep breath and take a moment to grieve. We’ll walk you through what you need to do and when.

My job is to make this process as painless as possible. In a majority of the estates I handle, the person tasked with handling the estate was close to the decedent and impacted by their death. It is completely understandable that this person would be overwhelmed by all of the new information and questions coming at them. Continue Reading When a Loved One Passes

When I started law school it felt like the professors were speaking a different language.  And in a way, they were.  The legal profession uses so many terms that have very particular meanings, that even though lawyers tend to be very well spoken, it can be hard to understand what we are saying. A word can mean so many different things in different contexts.  Take the word harbor for example.  As a noun it is a sheltered area of water that is deep enough to anchor a boat in and as a verb it means to provide shelter.  A person can harbor a criminal on their boat which is docked in the harbor.  Sometimes words that people use regularly have a popular definition and a legal definition.  For example, people often say someone is harassing them when they receive a few unwanted text messages or phone calls.  Sure that can be annoying, but the behavior doesn’t meet the legal definition of harassment, which calls for behavior that goes far beyond the behavior of your average Joe with a texting problem.  So how are you to know what means what?  And how does this relate to National Estate Planning Week?  The estate world is no different than the criminal or civil world.  We have a vernacular all our own.  Below is a quick reference guide for some commonly used terms and a non-legal speak definition; terms you might find in some of my other blog posts. Continue Reading Common Estate Planning and Estate Administration Terms

The 11th National Estate Planning Week is upon us! Instead of focusing solely on estate planning, I’ll be focusing on what happens after the estate planning or the lack thereof, more specifically, the probate process. This is not meant to be a how to on the probate process or a substitute for consulting with a qualified attorney that focuses on estate administration. It is more of a primer or reference guide for those executors or administrators that are overwhelmed and would like guidance or clarification of the basics, or for the person that just wants to know more.

Last year, I touched briefly on what is probate. This year, I’ll go more in depth. Check in each day this week for a new article focusing on: what happens right after a loved one dies, an explanation of basic terms used during the probate process, what to do when you get conflicting advice, and the pitfalls of celebrity estates. If you are just too hyped over another National Estate Planning Week to wait for tomorrow’s blog article, you can look back over last year’s National Estate Planning Week articles here.

Lindsay Schoeneberger is an attorney at Russell, Krafft and Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Widener University School of Law and practices in a variety of areas, including Estate Planning and Estate Administration.