All Articles

Below is a full list of articles by category to provide information and our helpful interpretations of the latest issues and news that may impact our clients.

Agricultural Law

Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax – Ag/Family Business Exemptions

As Benjamin Franklin famously declared, the only things certain in life are death and taxes...but the ag/family business exemptions enacted in recent years are reducing the Pennsylvania inheritance taxes for many farm families. With proper planning and action, both before death and even after death, these inheritance tax savings can be substantial.  more

Agricultural Production Contracts

The use of formal contracts in agricultural production, including crop growing and livestock production arrangements, has been on the rise in recent years. If you find yourself wondering whether it's worth it to have a formal agreement in place in a production relationship, remember that the purpose of a formal contract is to minimize risk.   more

Stepped-Up Basis Considerations in Farm Transition Planning

"Basis" is a tax term used to describe an owner's financial investment in a property. When that property is sold, the basis is the gauge for determining whether there is gain or loss from the sale and the resultant income tax consequences of the transaction, if any.   more

Termination of Crop Lease By the Landowner

The majority of crop leases are verbal. This informality works in most instances and that is why so many crop lease arrangements are verbal or the original lease agreement has not been updated for a decade or longer. However, when the landowner unexpectedly terminates the lease, the loose legal terms can make the separation more challenging...and potentially expensive.  more

Impact of the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program on Pennsylvania Farmers

Oftentimes these lifelong savings are expended on the cost of long term care. To the farm community, this reality presents far more catastrophic consequences by threatening the farmer's ability to preserve the family farm for future generations.  more

Dealing With Environmental Agencies

Farming often involves tilling soil and other activities that change the surface of the land. In addition, farm operations can involve the storage and use of liquid fuels and fertilizers. All of these activities potentially involve state and federal environmental laws such as the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law and Solid Waste Management Act.  more

Choice of Business Entity For Agricultural Operations

The question of whether to form a legal entity to manage and run your agricultural operation is often a major concern for farmers.  more

Business Law

Pennsylvania to Examine Its Professional Licensing Procedures

Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered a review of the professional licensing process to examine whether costs and procedures in Pennsylvania are consistent with those in other states.   more

Advantages of Converting a Limited Partnership to an LLC

Two recent changes in Pennsylvania law made it advantageous to convert a limited partnership which owns real estate to a limited liability company.  more

Will Your Business Be a Victim of Cybersquatting?

The protection of your company's online identity is more important than ever before.  more

Planning for the Future of Your Enterprise

You have a business idea. This article is intended to assist you in charting a course for your enterprise which will be appropriately suited for your expectations.   more

Should I be concerned about using online legal forms for my business?

Tom Archer was featured in the Ask A Lawyer section of a recent issue of the Central Penn Business Journal. His comments focused on the pitfalls of using online legal documents.  more

Do You Have A Legal Wellness Program?

Clients who voluntarily "enroll" themselves in legal wellness programs and proactively monitor and attend to things before they become problems realize the same benefits of lower cost risks, avoiding major issues and improving overall legal health.  more

Protecting Your Electronic Communication Privacy

Anyone who has had an appointment with a health care provider in the past nine years is familiar with the privacy policies that protect their health information.  more

Banking Law

Revised Rules Regarding Garnishment of Federal Benefits

The final interim rule governing garnishments of accounts containing certain federal benefits has been amended.   more

Employment Law

There's A New I-9 In Town

Starting on September 18, 2017, all employers will be required to have completed a new I-9 Form for every NEW employee. However, you can start using the new form immediately.  more

The Defend Trade Secrets Act: Do Your Employment Documents And Policies Comply?

The Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) was amended on May 11, 2016, effective immediately. The newly amended law contains a whistleblower clause that provides immunity for the disclosure of trade secrets to government officials for the sole purpose of reporting violations of the law.   more

Court Injunction Puts New FLSA Overtime Regulations On Hold

FLSA Regulation Update
On November 22, 2016, the federal district court for the Eastern District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction, effectively stopping the implementation of the FLSA overtime regulations, which were scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016.   more

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Decides The Protz Case

On June 20, 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down its decision in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District). The Protz decision rendered unconstitutional, Section 306(a)(2) of the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act, eliminating the use of an impairment rating evaluation in order to change the disability status of an injured worker from total to partial thereby limiting the injured worker to 500 weeks of benefits.  more

Legal Wellness Checkup - Form I-9

When you hire a new employee, be sure to complete all the legal requirements for the hiring process by filling out Form I-9.  more

Employee Handbook Mistakes

As a business owner, you probably have an employee handbook. You may have had it drafted by an attorney or perhaps an employee downloaded a template from the internet and adapted it to your situation.  more

Enviromental Law

New Total Dissolved Solids Requirements For Publicly Owned Treatment Works

An article on DEP's revised Chapter 95 regulations that address the acceptance of high-TDS wastes for publicly owned treatment works.   more

DEP Takes Another Regulatory Step Toward "Discharge Elimination"

Attorney Randall Hurst discusses the new Chapter 92A discharge elimination standards, what they mean, what he anticipates to be some of the problems, and potential solutions to those problems.   more

The Official Record - A Little Used Tool For Understanding and Interpreting Regulations

As regulated entities (water, solid waste, and wastewater authorities) we are subject to a multitude of "official" documents.   more

Estate Planning & Taxation

Year-End Tax Planning Considerations

For many, year-end tax planning considerations includes making charitable contributions. When determining how much to contribute, there are number of issues that come into play. The beauty of most charitable gifts is that you get the full benefit of the face value of the asset. Careful planning is necessary to avoid financial and tax pitfalls.   more

Importance of a Properly Drafted Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is one of the three documents commonly used to implement an estate plan (a will and a living will being the other two). At least every five years, an estate plan should be reviewed to consider changes in the laws, your family and financial situation, your intentions regarding fair and equitable distributions under your estate plan and your probate assets (distributed per your will) and non-probate assets (distributed per beneficiary designation or by law).  more

Medicaid-Medical Assistance Crisis Planning for Married Couples

With the cost of skilled nursing care exceeding $100,000 per year in some parts of Pennsylvania, a married couple's assets can be quickly consumed by the cost of one spouse's care in the event they become institutionalized in a skilled nursing facility.  more

Benefits of Naming A Trust As An IRA Beneficiary

Designating a primary and contingent beneficiary of your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a critical part of your overall estate plan.   more

Digital Assets Create New Problems When Planning Estates

Imagine forgetting all your passwords and being locked out of your online accounts.  more

Long-Term Care Planning

Traditional estate planning focuses on what will come of an individual's assets after they pass. It does not address the reality that there is a 70% chance that individuals over 65 will require some type of long-term care, including entry into a skilled care facility.  more

The Effect of the DOMA Decision on Estate Planning in Pennsylvania

The United States Supreme Court declared that the federal government must honor a state's decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry and that not recognizing such marriages was a violation of basic due process and equal protection principles.   more

The Perils of Joint Bank Accounts

There are several risks involved when adding another person to a bank account, before creating a joint bank account, one should be aware of some of the potential consequences.   more

General Law

Use Of Smartphone Voice Memo App Can Be A Wiretap Violation

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the use of the voice memo app on a smartphone to record a conversation, without the permission of the participants in the conversation, is a violation of the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act.   more

Stacking Coverage Limits

This is the third in a series of three articles dealing with some of the major decisions facing automobile insurance consumers when buying their car insurance. The third topic deals with coverage "stacking."  more

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

The minimum amount of liability insurance coverage required to satisfy Pennsylvania's Financial Responsibility law is $15,000 for bodily injury to, or death of, one (1) person in any one (1) accident and $30,000 for bodily injury to, or death of, two (2) or more persons in any one (1) accident, subject to the $15,000 per person limit.   more

Don't Give Up Your Right To Full Tort Protection

There are few more disappointing conversations that I've had to have with clients than letting them know they cannot recover their losses caused by another driver in a motor vehicle collision because the client has selected the "limited tort" option on their policy of insurance.   more

Economic Development Incentives in PA

Despite budget shortfalls, Pennsylvania continues to fund numerous programs aimed at encouraging expansion of business.   more

Employer Service Provider Security Breach

What should you do in the event of notification by your employer that a service provider to your company has notified its clients that the service provider's client files were accessed by unauthorized persons?  more

It's Not Just About Pro Bono

Lawyers need to be more aware of bar charities - that have a relationship to lawyers, the legal system or the professional organizations representing attorneys or paralegals.  more

PA Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act

The new Act requires home-improvement contractors to register with the state and include standard information and terms in their contracts.  more

Health Law

The Patient Protection And Affordable Health Care Act:

Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (PPAHCA) continues. Effective January 2013, there are several financial and revenue raising provisions that become effective that may affect you, personally and as an employer.  more

Under PA Law You May Be Financially Responsible For Your Family's Care

Did you know that, under Pennsylvania law, you are responsible to care for and maintain or financially assist your indigent spouse, child, and/or parent?   more

Real Estate & Land Use

Winter Brings Familiar Dangers

It's that time of year again. As the weather turns colder and air conditioners give way to furnaces, homeowners call their heating oil providers and say "fill'er up." Well over 100,000 homeowners in Pennsylvania, approximately 15,000-17,000 in Dauphin County alone, heat their homes with oil, meaning that their basements are home to large (usually 150 gallons or more) heating oil tanks.  more

It's Not Nice To Regulate Mother Nature

"Man proposes, God disposes." This catchy saying references the often strange ways that man's best laid plans can be changed by the whim of a Higher Power. In the realm of land development in the state of New Jersey, a new phrase was coined by a New Jersey appellate court: "God creates, man regulates".   more

Stormwater Update –Is a "Rain Tax" Right for Your Municipality?

The potential for stormwater utility fees, or the creation of stormwater authorities in Pennsylvania, is real, and some municipalities have already put these measures in place. With increased federal and state concern over the health of the Chesapeake Bay and other impaired waters, and rising concerns over flooding, managing stormwater is becoming more complicated and expensive than ever.   more

The Tank Act and Indemnification Fund

The Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund ("USTIF" or the "Fund") was established within the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act (the "Tank Act"). The USTIF is a special fund in the state treasury which consists of fees assessed by the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board to owners and operators of underground storage tanks.   more

NPDES Permit Basics

Part Four of Four
This is the last in a series of four articles about NPDES permits for Publicly-owned Treatment Works (POTWs). The first three articles in this series discussed Technology-based limits-—TBELs-—and Water quality-based effluent limits-—WQBELs-— in both numerical and narrative form. This article discusses what may be the most important aspect of Permits as they apply to Certified Operators: reporting. Because the reporting rules are so complicated, and because some NPDES permit provisions conflict with the regulations, this article cannot prescribe what to do in all situations. Attempts to obtain clarification from DEP have not been successful, although at the time of writing (fall, 2017) we have received some preliminary and informal comments that might result in revision of this article if they are affirmed by DEP administrative staff.   more

Myths Regarding Real Estate Transactions We Just Can't Shake

There is a lot of fake news out there! And there is a lot of fake news about news that is claimed to be fake that isn't fake. Here you will see a number of real estate transaction myths that just might be true, or not! Keep this article and one-by-one we will pick out the fake news from the real stuff. At the end of the list I've answered the first two questionable facts, so read on.  more

It's Not Too Early – Real Estate License Renewal Time Approaches.

Time is relative so whether May 31 is fast approaching or is way far out is for you to decide. What I can tell you is that by the summer and fall of 2018, many of you will be calling for help with real estate license renewal problems. So what can and should you be doing now to avoid the potential problems that may be unfolding a year from now?   more

Terminating A Real Estate Agreement Of Sale

Terminating an agreement of sale falls into one of three categories: 1) termination based on law; 2) termination based on a contractual right; and 3) termination unsupported by law or contract. Most terminations are based on a contractual right to do so and most of those fall into rights granted under the mortgage contingency clause or the inspection contingencies. The document that is used to exercise a right of termination granted by the agreement is the Notice of Termination of Agreement of Sale (TER).   more

What's The Follow-Up?

Home Inspection Contingency Periods
The buyers entered an agreement to purchase a property with an external insulation finish system known as Dryvit. Upon inspection of the Dryvit, the report noted a few areas that were suspect for some moisture infiltration. The buyers decided to submit a corrective proposal asking the sellers to engage a specialist to conduct a "further evaluation" of the Dryvit and to undertake any "necessary repairs." After being disappointed with specialist's report of the Dryvit, the buyers decided to terminate the Agreement of Sale outside of the contingency period.   more

Take My Advice . . . Please Get A Home Inspection Before You Buy.

I was helping an old friend of mine's son and daughter-in-law with their home purchase. The house that most caught their fancy, and the one they eventually purchased, was a flip. Now, I have a lot to say about flipped houses, primarily based upon the volume of litigation that I have handled arising from the purchase of flipped homes. For purposes of this story, let me just say that I was very concerned that my friend's son and daughter-in-law would later regret their purchase or have serious problems. And so, I embark on my mission, full of advice.  more

Your Real Estate Seller May Not Have A Dime's Worth Of Recourse!

In those good ole days of real estate transactions, offers were also accompanied by deposit checks. There was no place on the standard agreement to accommodate today's practice of transmitting deposits "within ___ days (5 if not specified) from execution." It is evident from the many inquiries on this topic, that today's practice leaves sellers vulnerable, for at least those first days. To protect sellers, the realtor practice of accepting offers, with a deposit, constitutes the sole remedy available to a seller in the event of buyer default.  more

NPDES Technology-Based Effluent Limits

Part Three of Four
This is the third article in this 4-part series: [1] about NPDES permits for wastewater discharges from Publicly-Owned Treatment Works (POTWs). All POTWs are required by regulation to give a copy of the current NPDES Permit to all of their Certified Operators. Certified operators, in turn, are required by regulation to know what the Permit requirements are and report to the Owner when a violation is-—or is likely to-—occur. Hence, all Certified Operators should become familiar with the provisions of their permits. Because it is the most complex topic, we discuss effluent limits in the first three installments. The fourth article will explore reporting requirements.  more

NPDES Water Quality Based Effluent Limits

Part Two of Four
In the first article in this 4-part series, we discussed "Technology-Based" Effluent Limits, or TBELs, for C-BOD, TSS, pH, fecal coliform bacteria, residual chlorine, and oil and grease. These limits are set by regulation and apply to all POTW discharges regardless of whether or not they are necessary to protect water quality.   more

NPDES Technology Based Effluent Limits

Part One of Four
This is the first in a series of four articles [1] about NPDES permits for wastewater discharges from Publicly-Owned Treatment Works (POTWs). All POTWs are required by regulation to give a copy of the current NPDES Permit to all of their Certified Operators.   more

Stormwater Management - The New Burden On Property Owners

It used to be the rule that rainwater runoff was not the responsibility of the landowner. The law recognized that water runs downhill. No longer. As EPA and the Pennsylvania DEP increase their emphasis on reducing pollutant discharges to the Chesapeake Bay, landowners are facing new legal and economic challenges.   more

Have Questions About Commercial Real Estate Valuation?

Selling? Buying? Refinancing? Tax Assessment Appeal? Condemned?
When establishing a value for commercial real estate, a qualified and experienced PA Certified real estate appraiser is essential. You should engage a professional appraiser who has been certified as a MAI, SRPA or SREA and will comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.  more

Should I Have My Own Attorney For Residential Real Estate Transactions?

Buying a home will probably be the largest and most significant purchase you will make in your life. Having an experienced real estate attorney who will protect your interests can help you avoid problems with a home purchase or sale.  more

Responding to Cell Tower and Similar Lease Offers

Since agricultural land, almost by definition, is located in rural, sparsely-populated areas across the state, often in townships with loose, or even no, zoning requirements, many such landowners will be approached by a telecommunications company to lease a small portion of their land to construct a cellular tower and related equipment.   more

Gaining Access To Landlocked Property After O'Reilly Case

For property owners whose property does not adjoin a public road and does not have access thereto either through an express access easement or easement across adjoining property by implication involving a common owner in the chain of title, the Private Road Act offered the landlocked property owner a remedy.  more

Pipeline Right Of Way Protection For Landowners

If you have been contacted about a proposal to install a pipeline on your property, contact an attorney experienced in this type of work before taking any steps to protect your rights.   more

Tax Assessment Appeal

If you own commercial real estate, or are a tenant who is responsible for payment of real estate taxes, you may be entitled to a decrease in real estate taxes.   more

Commercial Real Estate Transactions For Business Owners And Advisors

An introduction to principles of commercial real estate transactions critical to the success of any business. What you need to know about buying and leasing commercial real estate.   more

What To Do When Faced With Eminent Domain

If your property is being taken for public use, obtaining full and complete "just compensation" is a long, complex process, limited by law and requires the aid of experienced counsel to effect a comprehensive recovery.   more

Appealing Under Protest Can Keep Your Real Estate Project Going

Recently, Jeffrey A. Ernico of Mette, Evans & Woodside filed an appeal in Centre County, Pennsylvania on behalf of the developer of an apartment complex who had been faced with a grossly unreasonable recreation fee as a part of the conditional use approval.   more

Flood Insurance Reform Act

Homeowners in flood prone areas will face increases in flood insurance premiums under provisions in the Biggert–Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, certain provisions of which went into effect in 2013.  more

Oil And Gas Act - Municipal Zoning Limitations

The Unconventional Gas Well Impact Fee Act among other matters required municipalities to amend their land use ordinances to allow unconventional gas wells which are used to extract natural gas in nearly every zoning district.  more

Contractor Guidelines

The Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act is designed to protect homeowners from unscrupulous contractors and to establish penalties against contractors who violate the Act.  more

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