Category Archives: Blog and FAQ

Is a POA entitled to payment from estate?

Q: My father’s personal injury attorneys created a Power of Attorney and I was the Agent. I served in that capacity for about 2.5 years. The estate is being settled exclusively by the probate/estate attorney.

A: Possibly. If the Power of Attorney authorizes payment of a fee for Agent services performed, then yes. If not, then no. If the POA authorizes payment of the Agent, you can submit a bill to the Executor.

How do I find out what was in my mother’s will?

Q: I found out my mother passed away from an ex-son in law that send us a text regarding her funeral services. I had been visiting my mother in California, four times a year because they would not let me bring her to PA to take care of her. She had dementia and it was hard seeing her neglected in their care. I am the only daughter I was pushed away by my brothers. (Ligonier, PA)

A: If your mother had a will and there was a need to file it, the person appointed as her executor in the will would likely have filed it in the Probate Court of the county in which she died. You can call that county’s probate court and see if they can tell you or direct you on how to do a record search. If you find the will and can get a copy of it and still have questions, you would need to consult with a lawyer to review the will. If you need legal representation to challenge the will or find more information, it would be best to hire a lawyer in the same county where she died.

What can I do?

Q: I have been charged with driving without a license. The problem is my younger brother and his girlfriend used my identification. I now have a warrant for my arrest and a fine to pay, My brother is currently in jail and his girlfriend lives in Washington, PA What can I do? (Bridgeville, PA)

A: Driving without a license or driving under a suspended license are summary offenses. I am surprised there is a warrant but will assume you are correct. I imagine there is a warrant for not showing at a hearing. If you missed a District Justice level hearing, you might call the District Justice Office and explain what happened. They may reschedule you. If not, they likely tell you to turn yourself in. Without knowing more, and assuming this is a summary offense, I don’t think you will go to jail when you turn yourself in to the DJ. However, you will decrease your chances of going to jail by working with an attorney.

What is one count of theft?

Q: I have one count of theft. What is the chargers?

A: Theft can be the basis for a civil or criminal prosecution. I am guessing here that you are inquiring about Theft the crime. Theft, as a crime, has several subsections, including Theft by Unlawful Taking, Theft by Deception, Theft of Leased Property, Retail Theft. etc. It can be graded anywhere from a summary offense for Retail Thefts, and then progress upward to Felony Thefts depending on the value of the alleged stolen property. On the bright side, being charged with one count of theft is better than being charged with 2 or 3 or 5 or 10 counts.
The Chargers are a professional football team and NFL franchise, based in San Diego, California.

Will I be able to purchase a handgun?

Q: The offense was in 2006 and there were originally 2 counts and a simple assault. The simple assault was withdrawn as well as one of the two harassment charges.

A: 2709 subsections a 1, 2, 3 are summary offenses unless the offender has previously violated a PFA order involving the same victim, family or household member. In that case the grading would be enhanced to a misdemeanor 3. Subsections a 4, 5, 6 and 7 are graded as a misdemeanor 3’s. Under the firearms statute, you cannot possess a gun if you have been convicted of any crime punishable by over one year of incarceration. Misdemeanor 3’s are not and only punishable up to one year of incarceration. Summary offenses are only punishable up to 90 days in jail. As long as all your convictions are Summary offenses or misdemeanor 3’s, you should be eligible. Unless you expunged the higher crimes, you were charged with in the past, but which were withdrawn, like Simple Assault, (a misdemeanor 2) they will still show on your record which may cause you to be rejected upon applying. I would pay an attorney to file Partial Expungement Petitions for every crime you were not convicted of, wait till your record clears, then apply to purchase.

Can I get my first Aggravated Assault dropped?

Q: I was very drunk on St Patrick’s Day and don’t remember what happened but was told I was passed out in a street. When police and medics showed up I was put in an ambulance and then I attacked the medics and a nurse and was charged with 2 counts of aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and a disorderly conduct. I don’t believe anyone was hurt but I don’t remember a thing. I have no priors. Do I have a chance of getting charges dropped? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Possible, yes. There is a difference between someone who intentionally punches an EMT or Police Officer and someone who is blotto drunk and while flailing their arms around comes in contact with EMT and Police. When I have had these cases, and everything went as well as possible, the results were anywhere from a dismissal in exchange for a D&A evaluation or community service, to ARD, to the defendant pleading guilty to summary offenses. If these cases don’t go well, for example, it is usually where the victims want to push a conviction. If so, you may be lucky to have the charges reduced to Simple Assault. The fact that you have no criminal history is important. Your charges are generally not accepted into ARD, but the DA has the discretion of amending them to let you into the program. This type of case requires a lot of hustle for an attorney and there is no guarantee.

Must I give my landlord 30-day notice with no lease?

Q: Responding to a Craigslist ad, I verbally agreed to rent a room and split utilities with an existing lease holder for the remainder of their lease (6 months). Additionally, I paid a security deposit to the lease holder who in turn passed it to the landlord. No lease, or contract was signed. After 45 days the lease holder gave 30 days-notice that they were moving out. I asked the landlord for terms and/or a lease which I could consider. 10 days passed without any terms or lease provided. At this point I informed the landlord my intentions to move out. They are demanding 30 days-notice, which I reluctantly agreed to via an email while asking for the possibility of pro-rating the upcoming month’s rent. (5 days) The landlord became irate and demanded I adhere to at-will tenancy laws, which were not cited, and I have not been able to find/review myself. What are my options? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Generally, with no written will in place, a verbal lease agreement requires thirty (30) days-notice from bother parties.

How long does a Court take to finalize a divorce?

Q: I have filed the Praecipe to Transmit Record for my divorce in Allegheny County, PA. When I track the status of my divorce online, it says that the file was sent to Family Court. Approximately how long should it take for the divorce to be finalized? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: It can take anywhere from ten days to two or three weeks to receive a Decree in Divorce from the Family Division. That is, assuming the paperwork you submitted is all correct. If it is not, you will receive a little card in the mail telling you how to correct your papers and what you need to resubmit.

Is there any legal way to get out of civil demand letter from Walmart?

Q: I got a Civil demand letter from attorney representing Walmart in a retail theft, shoplifting case. It states pay to $150 to us in addition to and/or in addition to criminal charges. In FAQ section of recovery pay it states civil demand is for security etc but also to serve as deterrent against shoplifting as well as punishment for the crime. How can they punish me criminally if the loss prevention guy said that I’ll be getting a summons in the mail for the incident?? To date I haven’t received this alleged summons in the mail. Paying the civil demand would be better than going through the court. (West Mifflin, Pa)

A: Normally, most attorneys advise clients to ignore the civil demand letter especially if it is from an out of state collections attorney. However, I have had more situations over the past two years where my negotiation for a withdrawal of the charges, included paying the civil demand. It depends. An attorney can guide you through this. As advised, they can still prosecute you even if you pay the civil demand. You can try negotiating a global release of criminal and civil liability, but I would do this through an attorney.


Can we go to couple’s therapy while she has a PFA order?

Q: I am not living in the house with her and she has a PFA order on me. I am told she is willing to go to therapy with me. I am so pleased but want to be careful. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A:  Probably not. Have your attorney or an attorney review the order. It is doubtful that it has carved out an exception for couple’s therapy. If it is the standard PFA Order, no contact means no contact. If there is contact, in any form, it is the Allegheny County Iron Hilton for you. She would need to petition the court to either vacate or modify the PFA order if you want to go anywhere with her. You should probably consult with a lawyer.