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Happy 7 Year Work Anniversary Amber!

This year I celebrated seven years with Bellomo & Associates. What a whirlwind it has been!

Honestly, it so easy to come to work that I am not sure how it has been seven years already.

My friendship with Jeff began when I was a waitress at a local downtown restaurant, and it blossomed from there.  Jeff and his wife frequented the restaurant and always requested me if I was working.  His iced tea and her chocolate martini were always ready to be served just as they were being seated.

Such little things spoke volumes to Jeff and Whitney, so much so that in a conversation with one another over dinner one night, they had a crazy idea—an idea that came to fruition via telephone as I was on a family vacation.

It went a little like this:

“Hey there!  This is Jeff.  I have a crazy idea.  How would you like to come interview for a position that is open in my firm?”

Jeff explained the position.  I was intrigued because customer service had always been my strength.  My vacation ended and I interviewed for the position the following Monday morning.

By 1:00 p.m. the same day, I was the newest Client Service Coordinator with Bellomo & Associates.

I had always enjoyed the fast-paced restaurant life, as well as the quick cash that came with waitressing.   When offered the position, I was a new mom, and the job offered a set schedule and stability.  The thought of being home with my brand-new little girl every night was more than a blessing.  Never in my life have I had a “big girl job” that has lasted this long!

I can’t put into words the impact that Jeff and the job has had on my life. The colleagues I get to work with each day are family—it is nothing short of amazing.

The Bellomo family and the clients we serve have made the last seven years so rewarding.  I look forward to many more Bellomo & Associates anniversaries!

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What If You and Your Child’s Other Parent Cannot Agree on a Guardian?

When engaging in estate planning for any parent whose child is not yet an adult, there is always one very important decision to make: who would be the guardian of their child(ren) if both parents pass away?  Like many issues in estate planning, it is an almost unimaginable thought that such a tragedy could occur for a child.  But if we did not plan for the worst when doing estate planning, it would not be providing your family the protection it deserves.

If a child would ever lose both their parents before they are an adult, the state would have to appoint a person to be in charge of your child’s best interest and who could legally act as the child’s parent (for example to have authority to register the child for school or take the child to a doctor).  This person is what is referred to as a guardian, and can only be appointed by a Judge after a very thorough vetting process and Court proceedings all centered on the standard of what is in the best interest of that child.  

A common misconception is that there is some automatic and informal process whereby, in the event of the death of both parents, the child’s pre-determined “relative x” would automatically become the child’s guardian.  Again, this is simply incorrect as stated above, even if you list a preferred guardian in your Will.  The only way that your child will have a guardian appointed is after they go through the guardianship process in Court.  Nevertheless, it is not as though a Judge would ignore the wishes of the deceased parent.  The wishes of the deceased parent would be overwhelmingly strong evidence to any Judge who was trying to decide what person would be best to care for this child going forward.  For that reason, it is imperative for any parent to list their preferred choice of guardians in their Will the event of their death.

When I am working with estate planning clients and helping them consider who should be listed as their child’s preferred guardian, things can get complicated quickly.  It can be difficult for any couple to agree on who would be the appropriate guardian for their child, and it is something that most people try not to even imagine.  Common examples of concern quickly become issues such as which set of grandparents should be listed first?  Should we make both of our siblings act as co-guardian?  Do we still feel comfortable with your father as guardian if your mother is no longer here, or vice versa?  

The best approach is to plan for the immediate.  I always remind clients that they should only try to plan ahead for the next few years because they can always revise that choice in their Will as time goes by.  Sometimes, there is an obvious choice of who would take care of toddlers; but maybe that same person would not be such a great choice with a teenager.  It’s also important to take into consideration a list of backup guardians.  You can have as long of a succession line for your preferred guardian in your Will as you like to provide you the most comfort possible.  By taking these steps, and understanding that there is an entire judicial process set up to protect your children, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing you have done the most you can to protect your family.

If we can be of any assistance or answer any questions while you make decisions about yourself and your family, please give us a call at 717-845-5390 or click the link here and we will contact you.

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Why Its Imperative To Have Advance Healthcare Directives

An advance healthcare directive is a healthcare power of attorney and living will in a single document. The document will provide instruction on who will make the medical decisions for another individual but also what the principal wants in the event that they become the end of life or have an “end-stage medical” condition. Many people who come into our office tell us that their family knows what they want and that they can take care of it. I cannot stress or urge enough to not fall into this thought pattern. End-of-life decisions are very unique to each and every one of us. It is very easy to tell your family member what your wishes are but it’s very different for a family member to have to verbalize to a doctor to withdraw treatment and see their loved one pass within minutes. There is no more emotional decision that I have ever experienced in my practice and wish that stress and emotion on nobody.

Oftentimes, people believe that there is a right or wrong answer to the question as to whether you want heroic and lifesaving measures if there is no hope. There are so many things that go into this decision such as our personal lives and goals and beliefs as well as religion. I certainly do not believe that I have the right answer as to what everybody should do but I do know that whatever the individual wants is the right answer for that person, and therefore, that should be what is in writing and that should be what we follow. Families generally have no issue or fighting as long as they know exactly what the individual wanted and know that they are carrying out the wishes of that individual. The fighting and stress start to set in when it is not clear what the person wanted and family members start jockeying for position and who knew exactly what the individual wanted. Please take the stress out of end-of-life decisions for your family and not allow those decisions to be the center of debate and fights in a hospital. Take the time to put your wishes in writing in an advance healthcare directive so that everybody knows exactly what you want. This will save your family lots of heartaches but, most importantly, will give you peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be followed.

If we can be of any assistance or answer any questions while you make decisions about long-term care, please give us a call at 717-845-5390 or click the link here and we will contact you.

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Meet Dana S. Wieseman from our Probate Team

Click here to watch.

Dana was Born and raised in Central Pennsylvania. A graduate of Mechanicsburg Area high School in 1987 and Central Penn University in 1993 with a Specialized Business Degree in Legal Assistant. She has been a paralegal since 1993 and has specialized in Probate and Estate Administration since 2000 in the Harrisburg area. She furthered her career in 2020 by becoming a Certified Paralegal. Dana loves estate administration work and takes pride in the relationships that she has formed and the people she has meet over the last 18+ years. Dana is looking forward to continuing her career with Bellomo & Associates.

Dana has been married to Dave for 27 years and they have 2 wonderful kids. Megan, 25 is a teacher in Hilton Head South Carolina and Brian, 21 is in his senior year at Pitt’ and is considering law school. Now that Dana and Dave are empty nesters, you can find them on their farm in Bedford. College football is her favorite sport and has been a long time Alabama Fan. Roll Tide!

Please watch Dana’s video by clicking the picture above. If you would like to learn more about avoiding the probate process, please give us a call at 717-845-5390.

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Having “The Conversation” or “The Talk” With Your Adult Children About Their Inheritance

It is very rare for us to assist a family with their estate planning that we are not asked from the parents whether or not they should talk to their adult children about their estate planning and about the inheritance.  For years, I always recommended to clients that they have the conversation up front early and often with their kids.  I always believe in full transparency and no surprises.  Particularly in a situation where you may be providing for charities, other outside individuals, or maybe are not providing for your children equally.  

I would always recommend to the parents that they try to let the children know that they plan to have the conversation and when.  Giving the children a chance to come to grips with the fact the mom and dad are going to be talking to them about death and potentially the future.  I always recommended that they do it around the period when there is not a lot going on in the children’s lives such as buying a new home, having a new child, or some major life event.

For years I would hear from clients who were so glad that they did have the talk with their kids and maybe even had several conversations.  Although kids are typically skittish about talking about death, once you have the conversation they’re grateful to have an insight into your thoughts, ideas, and where you are headed.  I have very rarely found children who didn’t want to carry out the wishes that mom and dad intended.  Typically, the problem that we run into is if mom and dad did not tell the children clearly about what they intended the children end up fighting over the intent of the parent.  Having the conversation ahead of time typically eliminates the issue with fighting about intent later. 

I recently had several clients come back to me and tell me that the conversation did not go well and that the children and their relationship changed because of it.  I tried in several of the conversations to dig a little deeper to figure out exactly what happened and where things went wrong, but unfortunately I was unable to get enough detailed information to ascertain where the issue arose, what the issue was actually all about, and why it has changed the relationship. 

Due to the fact that I was unable to truly dig to find out what happened in the context of the conversation, I am hesitant to still not recommend having an open and honest conversation. My one client specifically said that he wished he would not have had the conversation ahead of time and it would’ve been better just to allow the documents to speak for themselves and allow him to die. I understand where he is coming from, especially since he believes that having the conversation changed the relationship.

I still believe that it is better to know that up front, and to be open and honest and know where you stand. The bottom line is that it is your estate planning, and you do not need permission from anybody, including your children, about doing it. Having the talk with them is more to make their lives easier after you are gone, and honestly is about them and assisting them moving forward, and also making mom and dad feel good. I do feel bad that a couple of the conversations didn’t go as planned, but maybe it opened up other issues that were there anyway, that were going to come up and maybe now better than later. 

We wish you nothing but the best in having the conversation with your kids about the inheritance and your estate planning. It is always a good idea to have your attorney have the conversation with them as well to have a third party providing the information. We often have this conversation at no additional charge for our clients to help guide the conversation.

Please contact our office if you would like to discuss your estate planning or have us assist you in discussing these issues with your children.  For any questions or help having this difficult conversation with your family, contact us at (717) 845-5390.

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