When “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin died on August 16, 2018, her family thought she died without a Will. There were many questions about what would happen to her estate and what Aretha’s wishes were upon her death.

In legal terms, it was believed that Aretha died intestate, or without a Will. You can read more about Pennsylvania’s intestate laws and how an estate is handled when someone dies without a Will here.

In many cases, when someone dies without a Will, it can cause controversy in an already grieving family. For Aretha Franklin, we can only assume that the vast size of her estate and the legacy attached to it left her heirs wondering Who’s Zoomin’ Who?
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I first became aware of the spotted lanternfly (“SLF”) when, as a Penn State Football season ticket holder, I received a notice that I was supposed to search my car for any evidence of SLF presence before leaving my home in Lancaster County en route to State College. I became more concerned about the SLF after I read a news article about a family whose home was overtaken by SLFs that were attached to their Christmas tree.

The SLF is an invasive plant-hopping insect that can have a detrimental impact on local agriculture. The SLF was first discovered in Berks County and has spread to a number of nearby counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. As a result, several counties, including Lancaster County have been placed in a SLF quarantine zone
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This is part two of a three-part series about courtroom procedure and etiquette. Part one of this series was How Do I Get There?

In my previous post, I walked through what a litigant or witness can expect from the time they enter the courthouse to when they enter the courtroom. In this second installment of the series, I will discuss who you can expect to see in a courtroom and what their role is.

When you are in a courtroom, the star of the show is the judge. The judge sits at the “bench,” which is typically located on an elevated platform in the front, center of the courtroom. The judge presides over the hearing, rules on objections, instructs jurors and is responsible for how things are done in the courtroom. Each judge has different requirements and expectations for parties, their attorneys, witnesses and observers. For example, some judges require attorneys to stand up any time they speak, while other judges permit attorneys to remain seated. Some judges allow jurors to take notes, while others do not. Your attorney can clue you in to what the particular judge you are appearing before prefers.
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This is part one of a three-part series about courtroom procedure and etiquette.

For many, the idea of “going to court” can be intimidating and nerve wracking. An appearance in court often involves difficult and important life circumstances. As lawyers, we often take for granted how infrequently most people appear in court since it is something many of us do on a regular basis.

Whether you are in court due to a custody or divorce matter affecting your family, a civil matter affecting your business or financial well-being, or a criminal matter affecting your personal liberties or rights as a victim, knowing what to expect and how to present yourself can reduce some of the stress and allow you to focus on presenting the best case.

To help reduce some of the stress associated with appearing in court, I have put together a three part series walking you through the process from before you arrive in the courthouse to when you walk out at the end of your hearing.

In this first part of the series, I will discuss the process from entering the courthouse to arriving at and entering the designated courtroom. Future posts will include information on who you can expect to be present in the courtroom and how to present yourself in appearance and speech.
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Property Law is one of the areas where the legal jargon can be so confusing that a property owner may not even understand what they own. This is especially true where there are multiple owners of the same piece of property. To clear up some of the confusion, I put together this primer on a portion of Property Law that I call “Concurrent Interests 101.”  I still remember the first time that I understood the difference between tenancy in common and joint tenancy. Professor Kane, you were right, I would need to know this someday!

There are three types of concurrent interests in property: tenancy in common, joint tenancy and tenancy by entirety. 
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Where I am from, fireworks are an important part of nearly every type of celebration. Fourth of July? Light up some firecrackers. New Year’s Eve? Shoot off some bottle rockets. Random Tuesday? Torch a Roman candle. Like many of my former neighbors in Northeastern Pennsylvania, pyro-technicians throughout the Commonwealth were thrilled last year when the Pennsylvania state legislature passed Act 43, which repealed the former Fireworks Law and expanded permissible fireworks sales, even though it also called for the imposition of a 12% tax on such fireworks. Under Act 43, consumers are able to purchase “consumer-grade” fireworks including firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets and similar fireworks, many of which were previously only available to out-of-state residents. Act 43 also allowed fireworks to be purchased at licensed facilities including temporary structures, which were permitted to sell fireworks around the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve holidays. 
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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.
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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.
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