Hopkins Heltzel Law Firm
Call For A Consultation814-299-5496

Pennsylvania Legal Blog

The ins and outs of probate in Pennsylvania

When a loved one dies, taking care of his or her estate can prove to be a challenging task. If a valid will exists, the state of Pennsylvania will allow assets to be distributed in accordance with the information contained within the will. Without a will or any other estate planning documents in place, the estate may be subject to state probate laws.

How does probate work? A personal representative of the deceased will be responsible for ensuring all of the deceased's qualifying debts are paid and his or her assets are distributed to beneficiaries. If the decedent failed to name a representative, the court will assign someone the duty.

When child custody plans need changing

Due to divorce or separation, there are quite a few Pennsylvania residents with children who have custody plans by which they must abide. If you are one of them and you feel like your current child custody arrangement needs changing, you may be able to successfully seek to have the plan modified. How can you go about doing this?

There are two ways to seek a custody adjustment. You can either try to work out a new plan with your former spouse or partner or you can take the issue to court. How you approach the issue will all depend on why you want the change and what the other parent's feelings are about the matter.

Avoid these common executor mistakes

If you serve as the executor of a Pennsylvania will, you have to handle some serious responsibilities. However, while an executor's duties can seem complicated and weighty, approaching them with the right mindset can help you meet your responsibility properly.

If the testator selected you as the executor, he or she had faith in your abilities, honesty and motivation to fulfill his or her wishes. Knowing some frequent errors to steer clear of can get you off to a good start as you begin the probate process.

A few things to remember when navigating the divorce process

Pennsylvania residents who are ready to end their marriages may not be fully prepared for the dissolution process. There is a lot to it and going into unprepared can cause quite a few problems. Here are a few things everyone who is getting ready to navigate the divorce process need to remember.

First, let's cover a list of do's. The most important item on the do list is do be reasonable. Those who go into their divorce proceedings being reasonable and cooperative often walk away with a better settlement in a shorter time frame than those who are unwilling to compromise. Other do's include:

  • Do some research: Doing a little research will allow one to know what they may expect to end up with in terms of support, custody and asset division.
  • Do disclose assets: There are those who try to hide assets, but doing so is illegal and unfair to the other party. Disclosing all assets ensures everything is on the table so each party can receive their fair share.
  • Do look into divorce options: Litigation is not always necessary when going through a divorce. There are other ways to go about ending one's marriage.

When getting divorced, it’s important to think about credit

Many factors can have impacts on how things go financially for a person after getting a divorce. One is his or her credit score. Credit score impacts many different things for individuals, including how expensive and accessible different types of loans and credit cards would be for them. This, in turn, could have big implications on how achievable the different post-divorce goals a person has would be.

So, when getting divorced, credit can be an important issue to keep in mind. With credit, as with other financial matters, knowing where one stands can be important in making good decisions. So, when divorcing, looking up one’s credit score and getting a full credit report to understand one’s credit situation can be wise.

Is a living trust and a will the same?

If you are in the beginning stages of your estate planning, you may think that a living trust and a will are essentially the same thing. Even though each of these documents will provide the same types of benefits, they are both unique in their own ways. When you don’t fully understand the benefits or limitations of a will or living trust, you may be making estate planning decisions that will not fit for you or your family. 

Beneficiaries: Understand Pennsylvania inheritance taxes

Perhaps your grandmother plans to leave you significant inheritance after she passes away. You may know that you may have to pay taxes on the estate to receive the inheritance. Yet many individuals do not know that their relationship with their deceased loved one determines how much of the inheritance you can keep in full, and how much Pennsylvania tax laws will acquire.

It is important both for grantors and beneficiaries to understand these tax laws. Grantors can determine the best document related to estate planning to allocate their assets, while beneficiaries can prepare for the assets’ associated taxes.

Don't take estate planning advice from celebrities

You would think that celebrities would be more mindful of their financial status than they appear to be. So many famous people engage in no estate planning or inadequate estate planning. In either case, Pennsylvania small business owners may want to avoid emulating celebrities when it comes to sound financial planning.

Instead, it would be a good idea to create an estate plan that covers much more than just who inherits the family home. A will is a good place to start, but should probably not encompass a small business owner's entire estate plan. Other measures could be taken to help ensure the survival of the business, the passage of it to loved ones or its sale upon death.

5 Reasons To Stay Off Social Media During Divorce

Over the last few years, more people than ever have started getting social on the internet. Where Facebook and Twitter were once looked down upon as things kids used for distractions, now accomplished adults are sharing photos of their weekend trips and keeping their friends up-to-date on their plans.

As with any form of expression, social media posts have also shifted the way people are assessed during legal proceedings. What originally seemed like a harmless tweet can now be the seed that sows someone's destruction. This is especially true during divorce proceedings. Many attorneys advise their clients to stay off social media entirely during divorce, and for several good reasons.

Email Us For A Response

Tell Us About Your Case!

Our dedicated team of experienced attorneys bring years of successful litigation and courtroom experience to offer a fresh outlook for all your legal matters. Regardless of the complexity of your situation, our team can provide you with a thorough evaluation of your case and current legal standing. To request additional information regarding our services, please reach out to our offices at your earliest convenience by calling 814-299-5496.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy


100 Meadow Lane
Suite 5
DuBois, PA 15801

Phone: 814-299-5496
Fax: 814-375-5035
DuBois Law Office Map

Review Us