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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Trust protectors activate when trust funds come under threat

Families in Pennsylvania interested in segregating their children’s inheritance from marital assets should the heirs get married sometimes use trusts to hold the assets. A trust can be set up that names the heir as trustee. This grants the heir some control and access to the assets while keeping asset ownership within the trust. Naming a trust protector within the trust documents adds another level of asset protection. A trust protector serves as an alternative trustee should threats arise to the funds, such as a divorce or lawsuit.

A protector might be a sibling or another trusted person. When control switches to the protector, it places the trust’s assets outside the purview of a lawsuit against the heir who had originally served as trustee. Only threats to the assets activate the powers of a trust protector.

The use of a trust protector could dovetail with other wealth preservation goals within an estate plan. The owners of large estates with asset levels above the estate tax exemption sometimes turn to various forms of asset protection trusts. A spousal lifetime access trust, for example, could shift assets outside of the taxable estate while still ensuring the spouses have access and control of funds. Similarly, a dynasty trust shields family members from technical ownership of assets while granting them control. Such a trust could spare an estate from paying taxes for generations while assets continue to grow.

Estate taxes can rise and fall as years go by, and a person could discuss with an attorney methods for protecting wealth regardless of taxation levels. After evaluating a client’s financial situation and goals, an attorney may suggest estate planning strategies that protect privacy and shield assets from creditors and ex-spouses.

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