Will I pay inheritance tax as a spouse?

Q: My husband, deceased Aug 2017, had some property in his name only, this property was purchased before we were married, and one piece was purchased after marriage, is this property taxed as inheritance tax for me (spouse). Is there anything taxable to me (spouse) as inheritance? I live in Allegheny County, in Pennsylvania. (Verona, PA)

A: If the property is in his name only and not in his name and yours, as husband and wife, it will pass to the heirs named in his will. If he has no will it will pass in accordance with the PA intestate succession statute. As applicable to spouses, the first 30K will pass to the spouse and the balance will be shared by the spouse (50%) and the children of both (50%). Spouses are subject to a PA inheritance tax rate of 0% and children, 4.5%. This means that if the house is worth 100K, 65K passes to the spouse but is taxed at 0% and the spouse will therefore pay no inheritance tax. 35K passes to the children and is taxed at a lineal rate of 4,5%. Permissible deductions may apply to further reduce tax liability. I suggest you meet with an attorney to prepare the inheritance tax return.

Do I need power of attorney or just temporary documents?

Q: My 48-year-old daughter is in hospital on a ventilator. She has been diagnosed with Castleman’s Disease. She has other other issues as well. She is not married at this time. Her children can’t handle her business affairs. I’ve been asked to handle her bills, and business matters. I am in the dark as to what I need in writing if anything at this point or can I just make decisions? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I am so sorry. If she is mentally competent, even if she cannot speak, she can execute a financial Power of Attorney which will allow an appointed person to manage her financial affairs. She can also execute a medical power of attorney. If she is not competent, you may need to establish a guardianship over her. I would consult with an attorney who can more fully advise after gathering all the facts.

Am I responsible for my deceased mothers medical debt?

Q: Mom was in assisted living up in Michigan after she moved in with my sister. She incurred approximately $2300 in debt to Omnicare, the pharmaceutical company used by the facility. The debt started accruing in 2016 because Omnicare was not billing correctly. They also failed to notify the facility to which they kept delivering this supposedly uncovered medicine. Mom used the medicine for years and it was always covered, before and after Omnicare. I began working with Omnicare trying to resolve this issue as soon as I learned of the problem, but to no avail. Mom had two insurances for drug coverage – one through the State of Michigan and the other Medicaid. I just heard from Omnicare for the third time since mom passed in Feb 2018. This time, they asked if mom’s estate went to probate. I cannot remember if that was asked before, but there was no probate. What little money mom had at the time of her death was applied to her burial cost. She owned no property, no stocks or bonds or investments. She was on Medicaid. Before I speak with Omnicare again, I would like to know if I am correct – that I am not responsible for this debt. (West Homestead, PA)

A: It used to be that family members had no personal liability for the debts of a decedent, unless that family member signed the contract with the provider to guarantee payment. However, some states have passed “filial” law statutes which permit providers to recover against certain family members (children included) for medical debts of an indigent person. PA has a filial law statute. I do not recall Michigan having a filial responsibility law statute, but I would check with a Michigan attorney. Whatever you do, do not agree with Omnicare or anyone else to pay these debts.

How can I stop my mother from taking out pay day loans?

Q: My mother lives on $1100 per month social security and has 5-6 loans ranging from $300 to $1000, some collateral and others payday. I paid off her loans two years ago and she has just redone the loans again. She had given me control of her checking account, but she opened a checking account and started taking out the loans again. (Neville Twp., PA)

A: As long as she is competent, she can do as she pleases. If she owns real estate or a motor vehicle, they can be subject to a lien or seizure if she is sued successfully and a judgment is obtained. If she owns no such property, and she takes a judgment, nothing can really happen to her except bad credit and phone harassment from creditors. Of course, you want to make sure she is not borrowing from thugs who may break her legs if she doesn’t ante up. If these loans are a result of some sort of mental infirmity or incompetence, and she becomes a danger to herself, you may want to speak with a lawyer about becoming her guardian.

Can my mother’s spouse deny a live-in caregiver for her?

Q: My mother, who is very ill would like to hire a family member as a live-in caregiver. Her husband does not want them there. Does he have the right to deny her a live-in caregiver? (Carrick, PA)

A: These are complicated situations. If your mother’s husband is a sole owner or owns the house with your mother, he can bar you or a caregiver from entry. If you feel your mother is being neglected or abused, you can call the Department of Aging of Allegheny County and see if they will investigate. If her husband becomes more obstinate, you may want to consider filing in court to be her guardian. I recommend a consultation with an elder law attorney.



A: the short answer is do not do this yourself. It sounds like it would be a flagrant violation of medicaid regulations and could cause your parent to be ineligible for medicaid and spend their remaining days in a run-down, flea-ridden, warehouse for the elderly. there are certain ways to spend-down with the procurement of medicaid exempt necessities and perhaps to even shelter some of this money. however, only do this through an attorney versed in medicaid regulations

Can I tell judge husband does not deserve jail in victim impact?

Q: We were both charged with domestic violence, simple assault. My case will be dropped but he is on probation for non-violent traffic plea deal. I received paper in mail this week asking for victim impact statement. Can I take this opportunity to tell the judge my man is actually innocent and the negative effects this is having and has had on our family is due to the judicial system and him being held in jail instead of home raising our baby and providing for us as he always has? He does NOT deserve the charges. I want to know if this can hurt him at all if I plead to let him come home? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Every victim is afforded the right to speak at a defendant’s sentencing. Since I am not intimately familiar with the facts here, I suggest you run this past your attorney first. This is to make sure that anything you say will not jeopardize the plea agreement that you have been offered. You stated your case, “will be dropped”, so you want to make sure that happens. Secondly, you need to be careful that what you say at his sentencing is not contrary to your prior statements in the case which led to his arrest. This could lead to false report charges being filed against you. You may also want to seek counseling with a domestic violence therapist.

Can CYF base a safety plan on a criminal court no-contact order?

Q: CYF made us sign safety plan and our baby is home. Can they say the safety plan is gone based on criminal no contact order? Cops were called and told us last time they would call CYF if they were called again (stupid fights never violent). Our baby was never in any danger. This incident they arrested both of us, but he is STILL in jail on a non-violent probation violation. His “violation” is the new Simple Assault charge. There was automatic court ordered no contact order and after 60 days they checked our home, and he said he doesn’t really see why CYF is involved, etc. He said the safety plan was “over” yet it isn’t a closed CYF case. He said it was over and seemed to hint that is based upon the “no contact order” the court put against my boyfriend, so he couldn’t contact me. We are getting married when he gets out, we are a FAMILY and I want to know if CYF is legally allowed to base a safety plan or decisions about it on the sole fact of the no contact order that has nothing to do with CYF. Please help? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If you are asking if CYF can put a safety plan in the home because of a criminal court no contact order, my answer would be yes. CYF can act based on the threat of harm to a child in the home. Domestic violence is such a threat. A no contact order will help keep the child in the home, but if CYF believes it is not being followed they can remove the child for safety concerns. I would follow the no contact order and cooperate with CYF to keep my child. A child witnessing even “stupid fights…” between parents can be harmful to the child’s development and mental well-being. My advice would be for the father to complete anger management and both of you complete parenting. This will give CYF added assurance that this will not happen again, and the child is safe. I advise you to get counsel. If you cannot afford counsel, call the Allegheny County Juvenile Court Project and sign up for a parent advocate. They are good attorneys and will give you proper advice.

Can friend or family represent someone in court if that someone refused his Public Defender?

Q: Am I allowed to represent someone who is family or friend in court, if they agree that I do so? My nephew was charged with a crime and he requested I help him, as I have experience in the legal system. He refused a public defender and could not afford an attorney. I was then arrested and charged with tampering with evidence to trying to help him.

A: You must be a licensed attorney to represent someone in court. It is commendable that you will help him. You may be better served in helping his attorney as far as gathering information or tracking down witnesses. I suggest you let a lawyer make the legal decisions. If your friend cannot afford a private lawyer, contact the Public Defender. If you treat the PD with the respect, they will treat you likewise. Having a lay person represent me in court who has “…experience in the legal system” to me, would be like letting the receptionist at my doctor’s office perform surgery on me.

Can friend be arrested for telling a cop he would sell drugs?

Q: Can he get charged with anything even if he didn’t sell any? My friend told a cop he sold drugs. But when the cop went to go get the money he left. He never sold him anything just told him he had it can he get charged with anything? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I really doubt it. There is no physical evidence-no drugs, no money, no witness to a delivery. There are people that confess to murders all the time who didn’t commit them. They do this because they have mental health issues. People say all sorts of things. I don’t think it even arises to the level of attempt or conspiracy as there is no overt act toward the expressed verbal intent. Tell your friend to not talk to guys who look like body builders, have shaved heads and act like they need drugs. They are probably cops.