Bucks Happening Names High Swartz LLP to 2017 Bucks Happening List

Digital lifestyle magazine includes firm in annual list of most popular service providers

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (May 25, 2017) – High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that it has been named a finalist in the 2017 Bucks Happening List.

The firm was honored in the category of “people,” which recognizes influential individuals across Bucks County, from artists and attorneys to photographers, teachers, and volunteers.

Produced by digital lifestyle magazine Bucks Happening, the Happening List is a popular people’s choice competition in Bucks County. More than 150,000 people voted in recent contents to determine the best and most happening people, places, businesses and events in Bucks County.

To learn more, and to see the full 2017 Happening List, click here.

High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

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A Daughter’s Plea

In Loving Memory of Christina C. Henrick (December 27, 1949-April 28, 2017)May 24, 2017By Stephanie A. HenrickWhile this is extremely hard for me to write, I think it is important to share my personal experience in order to hopefully prevent others from suffering what I have just gone through.I am an only child and my parents are divorced. In June of 2016, my maternal grandmother passed away at the age of 93. In March of 2017, my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. She had no symptoms other than an occasional cough- believed to be sinus related, and testing was done to rule out pneumonia. Needless to say, we were not prepared for this diagnosis and neither were her doctors.After getting over the initial shock, my mother told me she didn’t have a Will or Power of Attorney. The last thing either of us wanted to do was to think about her death. We had more important things to do-find an oncologist, figure out the best treatment options, spend quality time together, travel, cross things off her bucket list, color Easter eggs, and get caught up on Madam Secretary. And yet, here I was, faced with asking my mother questions I could barely get through without breaking into tears. Burial instructions? End of life decisions? Assets and debt information? Answering those questions wasn’t any easier for my mother. I ended up drafting a bare-bones estate plan, just to have something in place. She said we would discuss further details later and she would write everything down for me.I wouldn’t prepare an estate plan like this for my clients, let alone my family. But, thinking of her death was too much for either of us to bear, given her terminal diagnosis. It is far easier to talk about death abstractly, when it’s the last thing on your mind. I did my estate plan years ago and my mother knew exactly what my wishes were and where everything was. I even picked out my urn and detailed how I want my ashes spread. I wrote down all of my asset information, account numbers, logins and passwords, monthly bills, auto pay details, emergency contacts, medications, vet information and instructions for placing my pets if they outlived me. I didn’t do this because I’m an estate attorney. I did it to make my mother’s life easier if I became incapacitated or died before her. I didn’t want her to have to figure all this out on her own while going through the grieving process. I clearly remember that conversation with my mother. She was reluctant at first to talk about my death or illness, but we ended up laughing about the logistics of dividing my ashes between my parents since they couldn’t even be in the same room together.Unfortunately, my mother did not get the opportunity to discuss any of these details with me. I was forced to make split-second medical decisions. I had to deal with her financial affairs, none of which I knew anything about. I had to plan a funeral, not knowing all of her wishes, and make difficult decisions when her wishes were impossible to achieve. I have to read every piece of paper I come across in her house, to piece together her estate-and my mother has paperwork dating all the way back to the 70’s. I have to do all of this while grieving.Unfortunately, this seems to be the norm of how these things go and many find themselves in a similar situation. My mother always put others before herself, so while she made sure my grandmother had an estate plan in place and kept her records in meticulous order, her own affairs were put on the backburner. If I could turn back the clock, I would have sat down with my mother after my grandmother passed away and put a proper estate plan in place like I did for myself. Then at least these decisions wouldn’t have taken center stage to the comforting, consoling and grieving that occurs during the end of life.Do your loved ones the favor of tackling the sensitive and uncomfortable issue of estate planning, so they don’t have to. It may feel like a burden, but it truly is a selfless gift.If you have any questions about estate planning, please contact Stephanie A. Henrick 610-275-0700 or via email at shenrick@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation. 

Spring Cleaning Your Auto Insurance Policy: Are You Adequately Covered?

May 17, 2017By Douglas WayneAutomobile insurance is a necessary evil.   No one likes paying for a product like auto insurance that no one wants to ever have to use.   However, the only thing worse than paying for unused automobile insurance is discovering, after an accident, that the automobile insurance you have been paying for is not adequate to help make you whole for your losses.   Spring is an excellent time to take out your automobile insurance and look at your present coverage selections.  Some upgrades may be in order.The issue of full verses limited tort insurance was covered by this author in a previous blog entry titled Saving 15% Could Cost you a Whole Lot More – Full Tort v. Limited Tort Automobile Insurance. Suffice to say that this author believes that limited tort insurance is a poor value that saves the buyer a little money now in exchange for an inferior insurance product that likely provides insufficient protection to you and your family in the event of an auto accident.  If you do one thing to improve the quality of your automobile insurance protection, upgrading from limited tort to full tort insurance should probably be it.Consider raising your liability limit.  While you can legally drive with only $15,000.00 in liability coverage, this low level of coverage is woefully outdated.   Nearly every car on the road today will cost more than $15,000.00 to replace.   If you slide on a wet road and impact several cars, the property damage alone could easily exceed the legal insurance minimum.   Moreover, if that wet road accident involves bodily injury to one or more persons, your potential liability can skyrocket.   While some plaintiffs will accept the limits of your insurance as full settlement, a bad injury combined with an aggressive plaintiffs’ lawyer could result in loss of assets including but not limited to the equity in your home and your bank accounts and savings.   As your assets grow, so does your need for adequate auto insurance liability limits.   As your assets increase, so does your need to make sure that your automobile insurance is adequate to protect those assets.Consider increasing  your uninsurance and underinsurance coverage, or adding these to your insurance if you are not currently carrying them.  Uninsured and underinsured automobile insurance is  separate and distinct from liability coverage.  Liability coverage is for damages sustained by others, and cannot be used to compensate you.  The drive that hit you may be driving illegally without insurance coverage (an uninsured driver), or may only carry the legal minimum of $15,000.00 in coverage that might not be enough to compensate you for your personal injuries and/or property damage (an underinsured driver).  The at-fault driver may have additional personal assets to cover your losses, but most likely will not.The way to protect yourself and your family from damages caused by uninsured and underinsured drivers is by carrying adequate uninsured and underinsured coverage.   This is coverage that you pay for that allows you to make a claim against your own policy of insurance if you can collect nothing against an uninsured driver or less than your full damages against an underinsured driver.  This coverage is relatively inexpensive as compared to liability coverage and can be a very worthwhile investment of your insurance premium dollars.   Please note that uninsurance and underinsurance coverage are separate things and are not interchangeable; uninsurance coverage does not apply to the underinsured situation, and visa-versa.  You need both underinsured and uninsured coverage.  It is recommended that your underinsurance and uninsurance coverages each at least equal the dollar amount of your liability coverage.   In this manner, you protect yourself and your family at least as well as you protect other drivers and the public.Stacking insurance is a good way to increase your coverage for relatively little extra investment.  “Stacking” allows an insured to combine individual uninsurance or underinsurance benefits either within one insurance policy or across two or more separate policies for your household vehicles.   For example, if you have three cars in your household, each with uninsurance coverage of $50,000.00, you can arrange to “stack” this coverage and have a total uninsurance coverage on each car of $150,000.00.   This allows you to arrange for multiples of uninsurance and/or underinsurance coverage at a fraction of the price of buying higher limits on your coverage.   If you have multiple cars, stacking can be a way to get substantial additional coverage for a relatively small investment in additional premiums.While checking your insurance, make sure that you are up to date on your address, the types of driving that you do, and on all eligible drivers in your household.  Failure to keep your insurance company up to date on these types of changes can jeopardize your claim and can even lead to a denial of coverage following an accident.Is your car getting older?   You may want to consider reducing the amount of coverage for property damage to your older vehicle.   Auto accident repairs to an older car can easily exceed the value of the vehicle.   If the repairs would cost more than the value of the vehicle, the insurance company can simply declare the car to be totaled.    At some point, you might wish to consider reducing or dropping collision coverage on an older car and banking the savings toward the eventual replacement of the car.The coverage provided by an automobile insurance policy is set forth on what is called the declarations page.   This declarations page breaks down the various coverage options you currently have selected and the cost for each option.   The reader is advised to review their declaration pages and make sure that they understand their coverages.    After an accident is a terrible time to discover that your insurance coverage is lacking.   If you have questions about your individual auto coverage or whether it is adequate and cost-effective in the manner in which it serves to protect you and your family, please contact your insurance agent or a High Swartz attorney to discuss your unique situation and needs.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

11 High Swartz Attorneys Named Among PA Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (May 12, 2017) – High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that 11 of its attorneys have been named among Pennsylvania’s 2017 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars.The High Swartz attorneys named Super Lawyers, and the practice areas for which they have been recognized, are: The High Swartz attorneys named 2017 Pennsylvania Rising Stars are: A program of Thomson Reuters, Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who, through a peer review and independent research process, have been identified as attaining a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only the top 5 percent of Pennsylvania’s 50,000 lawyers and the top 2.5 percent of up-and-coming Pennsylvania lawyers are named to the Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists, respectively.Candidates are evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, including verdicts and settlements; honors and awards; special licenses and certifications; pro bono and community service efforts; and scholarly lectures and writings. The ultimate objective of Super Lawyers is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse list of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for other practitioners and consumers searching for legal counsel.High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

High Swartz Sponsors Spring Gala Event and Fundraiser for Main Line Art Center

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (May 10, 2017) – High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to partner with the Main Line Art Center. High Swartz was a sponsor of the Main Line Meets Monte Carlo gala and fundraiser for the Main Line Art Center on April 29.Inspired by the Golden Age of Grand Prix racing and the glamourous atmosphere that surrounds it, the party kicked off the Spring Gala Exhibition, which opened to the public April 30 and runs through June 3. The Grand Prix Gala and art sales from the Spring Gala Exhibition support Main Line Art Center’s programs, including its award-winning Accessible Art programs for children and adults with disabilities.During the Grand Prix Gala, guests enjoyed an exclusive first look at the Spring Gala Exhibition featuring a wide range of stunning 2- and 3-D artwork in a variety of styles and price points. Juried by Ekaterina Popova, international artist and publisher of Create! Magazine, the exhibition features works by more than 100 professional artists from the region. Committed to making art accessible and the art-buying process easy and fun, the Spring Gala Exhibition invites everyone – from the next-generation collector or art-buying novice to the seasoned collector – to fall in love with a work of art and make it their own.The Spring Gala Exhibition and Grand Prix Gala: Main Line Meets Monte Carlo are supported by Lead Partner, RDS Automotive Group; Pioneer Partner, Joshua’s Catering; as well as Catalyst Partners, The Bryn Mawr Trust Company, Conservest Capital Advisors Inc., High Swartz LLP, The Shipley School, All Around Entertainment, Beautiful Blooms, Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors, and Wendy and Mort Branzburg. Main Line Today is the official Media Partner.The Spring Gala Exhibition is free and open to the public. Main Line Art Center’s galleries are open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A free public Artist Reception and Sensory Garden Party will be held on Saturday, June 3 from 1 to 4 p.m. and features family-friendly art activities, theater performances, a children’s book reading, live art experiences, and more. For details visit www.mainlineart.org.Main Line Art Center is the community’s home to discover, create, and experience visual art. The mission of Main Line Art Center is to inspire and engage people of all ages, abilities, and economic means in visual art through education, exhibitions, and experiences. Committed to increasing the visibility and accessibility of art, the Art Center presents innovative exhibitions and events in the community, including Panorama: Image-Based Art in the 21st Century, a Greater Philadelphia-wide celebration of the photographic image and digital media. Main Line Art Center’s educational offerings for all ages, abilities, and economic means span from traditional to contemporary, and are all held to the highest level of excellence. In 2015, Main Line Art Center received the Commitment to Cultural Access Award from Art-Reach for the Center’s Accessible Art Programs for children and adults with disabilities, now in their 52nd year. Additionally, the Art Center grants over $12,000 in need-based scholarships annually. Last year, Main Line Art Center engaged 21,000 people through classes, exhibitions, and Summer Art Camp, and touched the lives of over 78,000 through Exhibitions in the Community and festivals across the Philadelphia area.High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Compensatory Time Coming to a Private Employer Near You?

May 10, 2017By James B. ShrimpLast week the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1180, entitled the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (“WFFA”). Consideration of the WFFA is now onto the Senate. The WFFA will amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to permit an employer, at the employer’s option, to provide it’s employees with compensatory time in lieu of overtime.  Should certain conditions apply, the employee will receive 1.5 hours of compensatory time for each hour of overtime worked.ConditionsUnder the WFFA, an employer may only provide compensatory time only if – (1) there is a written agreement wherein in the employee agrees to accept compensatory time in lieu of pay; (2) entered into voluntarily; and (3) the employee has worked with the employer for at least 1,000 hours during a 12-month period of continuous employment.Hour Limit/PayoutUnder the WFFA:
  • an employee may not accrue more than 160 hours of compensatory time (approximately 105 overtime hours)
  • there is no carry over to the next year, e., should an employee have unused compensatory time on December 31 of any given year, it must be paid out to the employee on or before January 31 of the next year.
  • if an employee has earned compensatory time in excess of 80 hours, the employer has the right to pay out any compensatory time hours exceeding 80 hours.
  • An employee may withdraw from the compensatory plan, or seek payment for all compensatory time with 30 days notice to the employer.
Use of TimeUnder the WFFA the employee has a right to utilize his/her compensatory time within a reasonable time after making the request if the use of the compensatory time does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.Termination of PlanAny employer that has instituted a compensatory time policy under the WFFA may terminate the plan on 30 days notice.Compensatory time is at the employer’s option, but only with agreement of the employee.  There is not much in the WFFA to object to – so keep your eye on it – the White House has advised that if the WFFA stays in its current form President Trump will sign it.If you have any questions about employment law, please contact James B. Shrimp at 610-275-0700 or via email at jshrimp@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation. 

Planning your Estate – Living Wills

May 2, 2017By Donald Petrille, Jr.When planning your estate, it is often the best time to discuss how you would like your health care decisions to be made in the event you cannot communicate your wishes.  An advanced healthcare directive is a necessary document for any future planning.Many people broadly use the term “living will” to refer to a document which instructs doctors and other professionals regarding your wishes for health care treatment if you are incompetent, and either (a) in an end-stage medical condition; or (b) permanently unconscious.  While “living will” is used broadly, in the event you wish to name another to make health care decisions for you, the document is technically a “healthcare power of attorney.”  A “living will” generally doesn’t appoint another person to make decisions.  Generally, living wills and healthcare powers of attorney are referred to as “Advanced Healthcare Directives.”  Features of living wills and healthcare powers of attorney can be combined into one, comprehensive document.Pennsylvania law defines “incompetence” as the inability to understand the benefits, risks and alternatives involved in health care decisions.  It also states that a person who is unable to communicate health care decisions, or a person who is unable to make a decision regarding a health care decision, is incompetent.  A living will is only effective upon incompetence.  It is important to note that an individual may be incompetent to make certain healthcare decisions, but may be competent to make other decisions.The concept of an “end-stage medical condition” is important to understand.  Under Pennsylvania law, an end-stage medical condition is:
  • an incurable and irreversible medical condition
  • in advanced state that,
  • in the opinion of an attending physician,
  • will result in death,
  • despite continued medical treatment,
  • to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
An end-stage medical condition does not preclude care that can extend or improve life, or would relieve pain.It is also important that you understand Pennsylvania’s definition of “permanent unconsciousness.  An individual is permanently unconscious if they have been diagnosed, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that they are in an irreversible vegetative state, or irreversible coma.  One view of permanent unconsciousness involves the lack of ability to interact with your environment.In a living will or power of attorney, one can state, the specific types of care one would like to receive during an end-stage medical condition when incompetent to make decisions.  Often these questions involve whether an individual would want to be placed on a ventilator, to receive antibiotics or chemotherapy, CPR, defibrillation and/or artificial food and nutrition.  All of these are deeply personal decisions and should be made in consultation with family, professionals and/or religious advisors.Perhaps the most dogging question people face in this day and age is how to treat severe dementia or Alzheimer’s.   There is a growing trend to treat individuals who have severe dementia or Alzheimer’s as having an end-stage medical condition.  Your living will should specify your wishes in that regard.  Often, an individual with severe dementia, through aggressive treatment, can make a full physical recovery from a physical injury or an illness such as pneumonia.  However, that individual would still have the same mental faculties as before the injury or illness.  This decision, admittedly, puts many people in a a quandary, but through good counseling, and an understanding of the various decision making consequences, we have found that our clients gradually become comfortable with their decisions.As our society gets older, and our life expectancy increases, there tends to be greater needs for advanced healthcare directives.  Drafting an advanced healthcare directive, in consultation with your lawyer, will ensure that doctors, social workers and the legal system will treat you with the dignity that you deserve if you are ever unable to make your own medical decisions.If you have any questions about estate planning or living wills, please contact Donald Petrille, Jr. at 215-345-8888 or via email at dpetrille@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.