Stephanie M. Shortall

Stephanie M. Shortall

Throughout her career, Stephanie has developed a practice focused on advising closely held businesses on the full range of issues faced in today’s legal landscape. She also works with individuals to develop estate plans and administer estates of varying sizes and complexity. Strategic, practical and responsive legal service is central to Stephanie’s approach to her clients and practice.

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In 2008, Pennsylvania enacted the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA) designed to protect home owners from unscrupulous contractors.  However, it is also a trap for the unwary home improvement contractors.  In addition to its registration requirements, HICPA specifies what must be in a contract for home improvement services and what may not be in these contracts. 

HICPA applies not only to contractors performing renovations and remodels, but also many other types of services including most landscaping work, security systems, fencing companies and concrete work.  Any individual or company performing these services needs to be aware of the requirements imposed by HICPA and can read more in this client alert. 

As a business owner, after spending countless hours researching and visiting commercial space, and finally finding the right location, you are often presented with a lengthy commercial lease.  Many will focus on the rent and term of the lease, but overlook the other details.  It is important to have an attorney review any commercial lease, whether you are entering a new lease or renewing an existing lease.  Far too often, the business owner only consults an attorney when a problem arises – and they are surprised to find out that the terms do not mean what they thought at the outset.  

Key areas that the business owner should review with their attorney are:  
•    Common area maintenance costs and calculations
•    Confessions of judgment
•    Responsibility for repairs
•    Insurance requirements
•    Subletting and assignment
•    Legal options in the case of a breach.  

Often there is room for negotiation, but even if there is not, you can gain valuable knowledge by consulting with an attorney so that you have a full understanding of your rights and obligations, and can plan accordingly.

While consulting with an attorney may result in a modest increase to the amount of legal fees associated with the cost of starting up a business, it is important for small business owners to recognize the long term impact of signing a lease that has not been negotiated, or at least reviewed, by an attorney, and may save money in the long run.

Friday, 29 December 2017 15:38

A Power of Attorney for your College Student

Although parents may be paying tuition, covering children under their health insurance, and even claiming them as dependents on their tax return, without a Power of Attorney that parent may be helpless to aid their adult aged child (over 18 years of age) with medical or financial matters.  Their doctors, hospitals, and even the college they attend, are limited in the information they are able to share with parents or other adults.  A Power of Attorney for medical and financial matters allows a college student, or any adult, to appoint someone to handle these matters for them if they are unable or unavailable to handle it themselves.

While they are home between semesters, you might want to consider speaking to an estate planning attorney who can help plan and put the proper documents in place to allow your young adult to appoint the person or persons they trust to handle financial and medical matters for them. If they have a serious illness or accident, having these documents in place can save the family time and significant costs by avoiding the immediate need to seek a court appointed guardian. If they are traveling abroad and need assistance with matters at home, the Power of Attorney will allow their agent to handle banking transactions, sign tax returns and many other types of matters for them.

Taking the time to be sure these documents are in place before they become necessary can save the family, and the young adult, time if an emergency arises and it becomes necessary to use them. 

For more information about Powers of Attorney, our Estate Planning services, or Stephanie Shortall, Please visit us at ammlaw.com.

Friday, 29 December 2017 15:38

A Power of Attorney for your College Student

Although parents may be paying tuition, covering children under their health insurance, and even claiming them as dependents on their tax return, without a Power of Attorney that parent may be helpless to aid their adult aged child (over 18 years of age) with medical or financial matters.  Their doctors, hospitals, and even the college they attend, are limited in the information they are able to share with parents or other adults.  A Power of Attorney for medical and financial matters allows a college student, or any adult, to appoint someone to handle these matters for them if they are unable or unavailable to handle it themselves.

While they are home between semesters, you might want to consider speaking to an estate planning attorney who can help plan and put the proper documents in place to allow your young adult to appoint the person or persons they trust to handle financial and medical matters for them. If they have a serious illness or accident, having these documents in place can save the family time and significant costs by avoiding the immediate need to seek a court appointed guardian. If they are traveling abroad and need assistance with matters at home, the Power of Attorney will allow their agent to handle banking transactions, sign tax returns and many other types of matters for them.

Taking the time to be sure these documents are in place before they become necessary can save the family, and the young adult, time if an emergency arises and it becomes necessary to use them. 

For more information about Powers of Attorney, estate planning or Stephanie M. Shortall, Please visit us at ammlaw.com.

Thursday, 02 November 2017 20:11

A Power of Attorney: Why Should You Have One

Whenever you discuss your estate planning with your attorney, you should be sure to discuss the preparation of a Durable Power of Attorney as well.  A Power of Attorney is a document that allows someone to act on your behalf when you are not present.  Although incapacity is typically the reason a Durable Power of Attorney is used, it can also be helpful to have in other circumstances.  If you are unavailable to act on your own behalf because of travel, deployment or temporarily living outside the area, your agent can handle many types of transactions for you.  A Power of Attorney is commonly used in real estate transactions where the Seller has already moved out of the area and needs to appoint someone else to sign documents on their behalf. 

A Durable Power of Attorney does not transfer assets to your agent or attorney-in-fact, but allows that person to act for you in most circumstances.  Without a Durable Power of Attorney, when someone becomes unable to handle their own affairs, the appointment of a guardian will likely become necessary.  A guardianship proceeding is conducted before the court in the County in which you reside and can be an expensive process that would take considerable time to accomplish.  This can lead to bills going unpaid, the inability to handle every day banking transactions and cause a major disruption for you and your family.  A Durable Power of Attorney, in most cases, can eliminate the need for a guardianship proceeding and allow your agent to handle financial transactions, real estate transactions and many other situations on your behalf. 

Together with a Will and Advanced Healthcare Directive, a Durable Power of Attorney is an important part of planning for your future.

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