We are delighted to announce that our physical office is re-opening to our existing and new clients. To provide safety to both our clients and staff, we are adapting the CDC guidelines for social distancing while we are in the yellow phase. Rest assured, that we have and will continue to regularly clean all areas of the office especially the high-traffic areas. All attorneys and staff will have their temperature taken daily and will be wearing masks when interacting with clients. Any attorneys and staff with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will work remotely. They will then be required to follow CDCrecommended steps, including not returning to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met.

As the health and safety of our clients and their families is our top priority, we are asking that our clients follow the procedures below during the yellow phase:

  1. Upon entering the building, we ask that all persons wash their hands or hand-sanitize. We will be providing access to soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
  2. We will also be taking temperatures with non-contact thermometers upon entering the office.
  3. Our office is set-up to comply with social distancing of six feet. In the conference and mediation rooms we are asking that each person sit a minimum of one chair apart from attorneys and/or staff at all times.
  4. Masks are available and will be provided open request.
  5. Teleconferences Zoom meetings, and FaceTime are available in lieu of inperson meetings if requested.
  6. We will continue to have the drop-box available for delivery of documents.

In the event that anyone is sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, we ask that you reschedule your appointment or utilize the electronic forums listed above.

As each county determines the procedures that will be followed, please ask your attorney of the specific procedures regarding the county in which your case in pending.

Please note that we will also continue to accommodate the needs of new clients, who are welcome, and as always we encourage and appreciate referrals. During this uncertain and unprecedented time, please stay safe and remember that Sweeney Law Office, LLC will remain by your side for all of your family’s legal needs. We ask that you have patience during this challenging time.

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Dispute over author’s work lingers decades after his death

Few in Cranberry Township may realize the enormity of the request they are making when they ask someone to serve as the personal representative or executor of their estates. In many cases, such a responsibility may only be temporary, with one only having to manage the proper dispersal of a decedent’s assets. Yet in others, one may be left to deal with intellectual or artistic works whose authorized use must be monitored for years (or even decades). In such cases, the duties assigned to an executor might even outlast their lifetime, requiring future generations to assume the task of protecting one’s creative properties. 

Take the case of John Steinbeck. The renowned author died in 1968. Yet recently, some of his beneficiaries have taken to court to argue over the future use of his works. This most recent action was initiated by the estate of the late author’s son (who himself passed away in 2016). Estate representatives are appealing a ruling made in a lawsuit filed by Steinbeck’s stepdaughter, who claimed that his son and the son’s wife had impeded projects to turn the author’s works into films in recent years. At issue is an agreement made in 1983 between the stepdaughter’s mother and Steinbeck’s two sons, which the late son’s representatives say was in violation of a law that allows artists or their immediate family members to terminate copyright deals. 

As this case demonstrates, some estate cases may never truly end. Thus, during the estate planning process, one should think very carefully about whom they designate appointments to as well as how powers of appointments will be passed on if the potential of needing future estate representation exists. An experienced attorney might be a good resource to have access to during such a process. 

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