Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Over the objections of Sassamansville Fire Company volunteers, the township supervisors approved a plan to merge the township’s two fire companies.
Both the New Hanover and Sassamansville fire companies will still operate at their separate stations, but there will be one set of officers.
“This has been a long time coming. We feel this is the best way to unify the two fire companies — they will work together just like they did with the standard operating guidelines,” said Supervisor Martin Dyas. “It’s worked with other townships. We are responsible for how the township’s’ money is spent. We had this recommendation and we are moving forward with it.”In 2010, New Hanover obtained a grant to hire a consultant to conduct a fire services assessment. This assessment led to 21 recommendations by VFIS Consultants, in order for the fire system to operate efficiently. The two fire companies have been working together on 20 of the 21 recommendations.
One of their recommendations, to have a single set of standard operating guidelines for both fire companies, has already been adopted.
Bruce L. Baldwin, of Baldwin Associates, spoke on behalf of Sassamansville Fire Chief Ray Strickland and the active members of Sassamansville Fire Company.“The merging works well on paper, but not so well in reality,” Baldwin said. “Both companies serve fundamentally different areas. Many volunteers would probably go to other companies. It’s a question of the communities they serve — Bally, Bechtelsville, Pennsburg, etc. — that’s the reason they (the volunteers) are in it.
”Nearly a dozen Sassamansville Fire Company volunteers were present at Monday’s meeting and many did not hesitate to express their feelings to the supervisors.
“We’ve had people resign over this. We’ve had people not show up because of this,” Strickland said. “We’ll work together without the merger. This has caused a great divide between the two companies. Mergers can be a good thing, in this instance — it’s not.”
There was also support for the merger.“The New Hanover Fire Company is 100 percent behind it. The mind set seems to be us versus them, but it should be we,” said New Hanover Fire Chief Phil Agliano.
The supervisors emphasized the desire for unification — neither side should experience loss. The resolution was approved at a vote of 5-0, and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Fire Companies Ordered to Merge
It's nice to get a mention in the paper, but we wish they had gotten our name right. Oh, well. It's still nice to be mentioned.
Wolf, Baldwin & Associates
Friday, August 3, 2012
- Estate Planning Benefits: If you die without a Will, your spouse will automatically inherit a share of your estate assets under the intestacy law. The law of intestate estates prescribes how your estate assets will be distributed upon your death, but those assets will only go to close family members, not same sex domestic partners.
- Tax Benefits: Married couples can file joint income returns, allowing for many tax deductions and offsets. In Pennsylvania, the inheritance tax for property passing to the surviving spouse is zero, whereas the tax on property passing to non-family members is 15%.
- Medical and Funeral Decisions: Most hospitals will allow a spouse to visit his or her husband or wife without the need for a power of attorney or other documentation, and may not seek other authority to make medical decisions the spouse’s behalf if he or she becomes incapacitated or in a permanent state of unconsciousness. A domestic partner, on the other hand, cannot make medical decisions and may not even be allowed access to the hospital to visit. Funeral homes will typically not seek authority from a surviving spouse to determine funeral, body disposition, or burial arrangements.
- Receipt of Benefits/Death Benefits: Married couples may take for granted their right to be the beneficiary of various forms of benefits, including medical insurance, retirement benefits, Social Security, and workers’ compensation fatal claim benefits.
- Family Law Rights: Our law is replete with protections for married couples who want to dissolve their relationship, including spousal support, child support, provisions for child custody, and the ability of the court to equitably divide marital property. Domestic partners cannot take advantage of these opportunities and protections.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Friday, June 8, 2012
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Thursday, March 1, 2012
While most people know that texting while driving is not considered to be safe, many still do it, thinking that it can't be that dangerous. Wrong. The Centers for Disease Control's information about distracted driving clearly shows that it is that dangerous, for everyone.They say that there are three types of distracted driving:
Visual―taking your eyes off the road;
Manual―taking your hands off the wheel; and
Cognitive―taking your mind off what you are doing.
The act of texting while driving fits into all three of distractions, without fail. There is no way to text and drive without doing these things.That means no more texting while driving, but does the average person know what the law considers to be “texting?” The wording of the code says:
Vehicle code (75 PA.C.S.) - Use of Interactive Wireless Communications Devices for Text-Based Communications While Motor Vehicles Prohibited
But what is a “text based communications device?” The law consideres it to be:
"Interactive wireless communications device." A wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, smart phone, portable or mobile computer or similar device which can be used for voice communication, texting, e-mailing, browsing the Internet or instant messaging. The term does not include any of the following:
(1) a device being used exclusively as a global positioning or navigation system;
(2) a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle; or
(3) a communications device that is affixed to a mass vehicle, bus or school bus.
That means that a phone, pda, laptop or tablet is considered to be an “interactive wireless communications device” according to the law. A GPS, if it is only a GPS (ie, Garmin, TomTom, etc,) or if it is integrated into a car is legal to use, but the GPS feature on a smartphone may not be.
Though it can be a hassle ,nothing is worth the consequences of sending a text. And as always, the experienced lawyers at Pottstown’s Wolf, Baldwin & Associates can answer your questions, and help you with your legal needs.
The first step, according to this article on digital estate planning, is to make a list of what your digital assets actually are. How much do you have, in the digital realm, which you wish to have dispersed upon your passing?
Next, after you assess your digital estate, what do you want to do with it? What would you like to have deleted, what would you like to have archived, and is there anything that should have ownership transferred?
Once you have determined your assets and their fate, your next consideration should be whom do you want to execute those wishes. It should be determined if one person, or several would handle your digital estate, keeping in mind who will have the technological skills to do what you are asking of them.
Finally, when you know what your digital estate is and who you want to handle it, then you must document those wishes. Remember, this plan is for when you are gone, so your directives must be clear. There are many online services available to assist with conveying your wishes, although if a low-tech option appeals to you more you can always turn to things like safety deposit boxes.
Though no one likes to think about what will happen when they pass away, a little bit of preparation and estate planning will make things go more smoothly for your loved ones. And as always, the experienced lawyers at Pottstown’s Wolf, Baldwin & Associates can answer your estate planning questions, and help you with your legal needs.
Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C.
The average time an individual spends researching cars prior to making a purchase is approximately 30 hours, with around 60% of that time, over 18 hours, spent on internet research.1 This statistic should not be surprising given that a car is a huge financial investment, on which we all rely for safety, transportation and functionality. Similarly, retaining an attorney for serious litigation can be a significant financial investment. A client will rely on the attorney’s knowledge and expertise, courtroom savvy, and negotiation skills. A certain level of trust goes along with the type of car you choose; that trust should be even deeper in the attorney you select. That being said, why is the time spent in choosing an attorney significantly less that that of a car purchase? Listed below are some suggestions as to how a more diligent search can and should be conducted prior to selecting your attorney.
Clients often find me on the internet. However, not one client has told me that he spent anywhere close to 18 hours searching. The internet is a terrific research tool for both cars and attorneys. There are several reputable sites regarding attorneys: Martindale Hubbell (lawyers.com), Avvo.com and Findlaw.com to name a few. These internet sites go into detail as to an attorney’s practice areas, education, years of experience, published works, seminars given, and more. Some of the web sites also have client reviews for the attorneys.
When an individual begins her car search, she has certain features she desires for her car. Some people need all wheel drive, or a convertible, or are looking for low gas mileage. Not all cars match every person since each individual has specific needs. The same holds true for an attorney – lawyers are not one model fits all. Some things to consider: if you are the type of person who is seeking a newer car with newer technology, think Bluetooth, SiriusXM, backup cameras; perhaps you will be looking for attorney who is more facile with technology. Some law firms are more progressive than others in use of technology. Is your attorney able to scan and email documents quickly, will he or she respond to email as a means of communication, does he or she accept text messages from clients? Some law firms will email invoices to cut down on paper usage and even offer payment through the internet on their web site via credit card.
Another example might be if you are in the market for a hybrid SUV with navigation and a DVD player; you may be looking for one vehicle that encompasses many functions. Similarly, do you need an attorney for one particular legal discipline, such as divorce, or do you own a business and have several issues for which you may need legal assistance? There are many attorneys identify themselves as “general practitioners” whose knowledge spans several different areas of law. A general practitioner can likely help you with a divorce as well as draft your Will. This is certainly not uncommon. However, another approach is to choose a law firm where you can take advantage of the knowledge of multiple attorneys who concentrate in each area in which you need assistance. This is an intensely personal choice as to whether you feel more comfortable working with one attorney who is familiar with you versus “switching” attorneys within the firm to ensure a specialist in each area.
This raises another issue to consider. We’ve all heard about bait-and-switch techniques in which you select a car and when you arrive at the dealership to complete the paperwork, a different car is waiting for you. Some law firms engage in bait-and-switch techniques as well. When interviewing a potential attorney, inquire as to whether that person will be handling your case or will an associate be doing some of the work. Who will return your phone calls, write the necessary documents, or go to court with you? The answer will vary depending upon the firm. It is not uncommon, especially in larger firms, for a client’s work to be performed by associates or paralegals. This is not to say that such policies do not result in certain efficiencies and potential costs savings for the client, but if you are concerned about who will be doing your work you should ask up front about the firm’s policies as to delegation of work.
Inherent in the purchase of a car is a lot of paperwork, such as a contract, the title transfer, loan documents, and warranty information. When you retain an attorney there is a contract created as well. Attorneys in Pennsylvania are required by the Rules of Professional Responsibility to enter into a “fee agreement” with each and every client. Fee agreements vary from attorney to attorney but they should be clear regarding the scope of the attorney’s work, and how the fees are to be billed (typically hourly, contingent, or flat fee). Fees can vary widely depending on the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly, as well as the local market and the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services.
The final step in purchasing a car is the test drive. Unfortunately you can’t really “test drive” an attorney but you can take the opportunity to meet him or her through a consultation and ask the types of questions raised in this article. Clients meeting with attorneys for the first time are often shy, and this is understandable given that many people do not meeting with attorneys frequently. However, this is your opportunity to ask questions. As I tell potential clients, I should be the one feeling like I’m being interviewed because that is exactly what should be occurring. Attorneys work for clients and yes, and they should have to “sell” themselves. Take that first meeting as an opportunity to ask as many questions as you like. In my own consultations with clients, I take it upon myself to give a brief run down on my experience, my practice philosophy, and how I try to handle my interactions with the client and opposing attorneys. That first meeting is as much about your case as it is about whether that attorney is right for you. While you are deciding whether the attorney is right for you, the attorney is doing the same thing. As your attorney I want to believe in you, trust you and be able to provide you with the best representation possible. If I feel for whatever reason I am not able to do that, then I might not be the lawyer for you.
I hope that potential clients will spend more time choosing their attorneys, which will in turn mean more experienced, ethical attorneys will be retained. Most attorneys I know work very hard for their clients and have great relationships with those clients. Unfortunately just like there are cars that have a reputation as lemons there are “lemons” in the legal profession too. Unscrupulous attorneys, while few and far between, are those that give our noble profession a bad name. Spend a little more time choosing an attorney – it will be worth it to you, and will squeeze the lemons out of the business of law.
Kristen Doleva-Lecher, Esquire is an attorney in the law firm of Wolf, Baldwin and Associates, P.C., which has offices in Pottstown, Reading, and West Chester. She is a certified mediator and practices in the areas of family law and business representation. She may be reached by telephone at 610-374-2400 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
1 Helen Leggatt, Car buyers spend majority of shopping time online, February 7, 2011, http://www.bizreport.com/2011/02/car-buyers-spend-majority-of-shopping-time-online.html
Friday, January 6, 2012
LOCAL LAW FIRM TO REMAIN IN POTTSTOWN
Family maintains Borough presence for over 100 years
Pottstown, PA – December 22, 2011 – Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C. announces that their new office location will be at 800 East High Street in Pottstown. The firm, founded by Jack F. Wolf, has been located on North Hanover Street since 1973. Bruce Baldwin joined the firm in 1987. The new building will give the firm approximately 50% more office space.
“We are pleased and excited to announce that our firm has secured a building here in the Borough,” said Mr. Wolf. “We engaged in an extensive search throughout the surrounding area, but we remain committed to the Borough. Although it will take a significant amount of work to refurbish our new home, our hearts are in Pottstown and we wanted to do our part for the economic revitalization of the Borough. We look forward to restoring the building to its former grandeur.”
Pottstown has been home to many Wolf-family owned businesses since the early 1900’s, starting with his grandfather’s scrap business. His uncles included a lawyer, dentist, and a dry cleaner. Many Pottstonians have fond memories of shopping at his parents’ store, Wolf’s China and Glass, on High Street. Mr. Wolf’s son, Levi S. Wolf joined the firm in 1996.
“I see our purchase of this building as another way of giving back to the community,” said Levi Wolf. “Keeping jobs in the borough is important to its revitalization, and important to us.” Wolf, Baldwin currently employs 16 people.
The firm anticipates it will move to its new location by summer 2012.
Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C., is a seven-attorney, general practice law firm, with additional offices in Reading and West Chester. The firm’s areas of practice include Workers’ Compensation matters, Business and Corporate Law, Estate Planning, Administration and Probate, Real Estate, Family Law and General Civil Litigation.