Pa Estate Planning – Intro – 1

Pa Estate Planning – Intro – 1

An attorney who specializes in Pa Estate Planning can help you create a complete plan to protect your spouse and children if you become unable to manage your financial affairs. Pa Estate Planning allows you to make decisions now so your wishes can be carried out if you die or become incapacitated.

Pa Estate Planning – Intro – Planning Ahead is Important

For the average person, all of these documents can seem confusing and a bit overwhelming. Pa Estate Planning attorney John B. Whalen, Jr. Esq. can help you decide which documents you need and how best to plan ahead so that your wishes are carried out.

Pa Patriot Act – History – 2

On July 23, 2002, the Treasury Department issued the Proposed Rules for Section 326, which received overwhelming criticism from all sides. The criticism ranged from one side advocating for a rule containing an entirely risk-based approach without any minimum identification and verification requirements, to the opposing side desiring a rule with more specific requirements [because a completely] risk-based approach would leave too much room for interpretation.

The overwhelming sentiment from all sides, however, was that the Treasury Department had underestimated the compliance burden that would be imposed on financial institutions.

On April 30, 2003, the Treasury Department adopted the Joint Final Rule for Section 326, which attempted to both increase the verification effectiveness for new accounts and decrease the needless drain on financial institutions. Changes from the Proposed Rules to the Joint Final Rule included a narrowed definition of customer (i.e., by excluding signatories on accounts) and redefined record-keeping requirements (i.e., by requiring only notations from, not copies of, identity-verifying documents such as driver’s licenses).

Most notably, the Joint Final Rule implemented the Customer Identity Program (C.I.P.) rules.

Pa Patriot Act – C.I.P. Rules

On October 1, 2003, the C.I.P. rules became mandatory, which dictated that “[a]ll financial institutions, regardless of size, have a C.I.P. that contains customer identification and verification procedures.”

The purpose of the Customer Identity Program (C.I.P.) rules, which attempt to ensure that financial institutions know the true identity of those opening accounts, shall be explained in the next part.

Pa Patriot Act – Intro – 1

Less than 2 months after 9/11, President Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act.

The USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (“U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T.”) Act, announced a wide range of new tools to strengthen the U.S. economic system from, in addition to many other things, money laundering, terrorist financing, identity theft, and fraud.

Among the tools of the USA PATRIOT Act was Section 326, which virtually overhauled the account-opening process at financial institutions.

Section 326 required that the Treasury Department establish minimum standards with which financial institutions must strictly comply in order to open new accounts.

This note will outline a brief history and a few aspects of Section 326 with which we are all now faced.

Pa Common Law Marriage – Abolish – 4

In 1998, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in the case of Staudenmayer v. Staudenmayer, implied that it was time to abolish common law marriages in Pennsylvania.

The Court noted that Pennsylvania courts have long viewed such claims with hostility, warned that the “continued viability [of common law marriages in Pennsylvania] is seriously in question,” but stopped short of abolishing them, concluding that “[w]hile we do not today abolish common law marriages in Pennsylvania, we affirm that claims for this type of marriage are disfavored.

“However, and unlike Staudenmayer, where the issue to abolish common law marriage was not raised on appeal, the issue was properly raised in PNC Bank Corp. In light of this distinction, the PNC Bank Corp. Court noted that “the parties have preserved and fully argued the issue, so it is squarely presented for our consideration, “and stated that “[m]any sound reasons exist to abandon a system that allows the determination of important rights to rest on evidence fraught with inconsistencies, ambiguities, and vagaries.

The circumstances creating a need for the doctrine are not present in today’s society. “The Court cited many reasons in support of its holding to abolish common law marriages in Pennsylvania. These reasons included the fact that “the marital status of parents no longer determines the inheritance rights of their children,” and “the right of a single parent to obtain child support is no longer dependent upon his or her marital status. “The PNC Bank Corp Court prefaced its holding by stating that “[a]lthough our Supreme Court, while declining to reach the issue [in Staudenmayer], “has raised the overruling axe so high that its falling is just about as certain as the changing of the seasons,” concluded its holding by stating that “[a]ccordingly henceforth, this court will recognize as valid only those Pennsylvania marriages entered into pursuant to the Marriage Law procedures.

As a caution, however, it is important to keep in mind that the Commonwealth Court may not be the final word here. Decisions from this court are always subject to being appealed to – and overruled by – the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and decisions from this court control only a limited scope of lower courts and administrative agencies (i.e., workers compensation, unemployment compensation, certain taxation issues, etc.).

The Conclusion

As its existence in Pennsylvania grows increasingly precarious, it does appear that the door to the church of common law marriage in Pennsylvania may be closing forever. In light of this decision, when our clients say that they are married, do we still take their word for it?

Pa Common Law Marriage – Note

As stated in part one, Pa Common Law Marriage – 1 – Intro, the Pennsylvania Legislature, did in fact, render common law marriage proactively invalid after January 1, 2005, by statute (23 1103), stating that “[n]o common-law marriage contracted after January 1, 2005, shall be valid. Nothing in this part shall be deemed or taken to render any common-law marriage otherwise lawful and contracted on or before January 1, 2005, invalid.” (Nov. 23, 2004, P.L.954, No.144, eff. 60 days)

Pa Common Law Marriage – History – 3

Pa Common Law Marriage – History – 3 – Origins

The origins of common law marriage are as varied as the misconceptions held regarding what actually creates one.

Their beginnings have been attributed to the informal marriages prevalent throughout European culture during the pre-Reformation.

From there, they have been traced through England, brought to the American colonies during its settlement by the English immigrants, and then followed across the United States during its development, where they continued their existence out of necessity due to the lack of access to clergy.

Pa Common Law Marriage – History – 3 – Criticism

Waves to abolish common law marriage began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Some of the many and varied reasons cited in support of its abolishment included the growing emphasis on protecting both the institution of marriage as well as the protection of the increased wealth of the average citizen.

These trends continued throughout the 20th century, rising again amidst the creation of the many new governmental benefit programs in the latter part of the 20th century.

New Jersey abolished common law marriage by statute in 1955, and, in support of its abolition, the New Jersey Supreme Court stated that “[i]t was not without reason that our statute and similar statutes in other states have been popularly referred to as `Heart Balm Acts’.” The many abuses arising from common law marriages, with their effect on public morality, private property rights and the legitimacy of children, called for correction. Our Legislature dealt with such mischief in this act in sweeping and emphatic language, permitting no exception or evasion. “Despite its judicial acceptance in many states, the doctrine of common law marriage is generally frowned on in this country, even in some of the states that have accepted it.”

Accordingly, such a status is the product of an antiquated law and inattention to whether there is a need for change. However, despite these waves of change, Pennsylvania remains in the minority, being only one of twelve states that still recognize common law marriage.

Because of this, disapproval of the doctrine has grown harsher and more prevalent, with one of the major areas of concern being that of estate law.

It has been opined that “[common law marriage] puts in doubt the certainty of the rights of inheritance,” “opens the door to the imposition on estates of suppositious heirs,” and “allow[s] unprincipled claimants to convert illicit relationships into honest marriages, to their advantage, on spurious claims … against the estate of a decedent.”