Watch out for Non-Hire and Anti-Poaching Agreements!

You are the CEO of Company A, a cutting-edge developer of new software.  Over golf (or sushi), you agree with the CEO of equally cutting-edge Company B that each of you will not hire or try to hire away the other’s top talent.

Is anything wrong with this?  Yes! The Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits contracts in restraint of trade or competition.  And an agreement that has no purpose besides conspiring to limit competition for talent is a per se violation of the Sherman Act.  The Sherman Act carries serious criminal and civil penalties.  So the two CEOs should re-think their approach, to put it mildly.

Both CEOs have tried to enter into non-hire and anti-poaching agreements, where competing employers agree to refrain from hiring or recruiting (poaching) each other’s employees.  A typical agreement prohibits cold calling and bidding wars for each other’s employees and requires notification when recruiting each other’s employees.

Non-hire and anti-poaching agreements raise several key policy and economic concerns.  First, the agreements make it hard for employees to move between employers.  Most employees are at-will employees who may leave one employer for another at any time, for any reason or no reason.  Second, these agreements operate to suppress employee salaries; competition for talent drives salaries up, and restraints on competition have the opposite effect.  Third, the agreements may not even be known to employees who try to find a new job (or to recruit from other companies), only to find they have violated a policy set by those at the top.

Non-hire or anti-poaching agreements are also unnecessary.  Employers can use less harsh measures to protect against a talent drain, by using agreements that are ancillary to a business relationship and reasonable in scope.  Post-employment non-competition and non-solicitation agreements may limit an employee from working for a competitor or accepting or soliciting business from customers.  These agreements are enforceable if supported by consideration, where the restrictions reasonably relate to a legitimate business interest and are reasonable in time and geographic scope.  Employers may also contract to restrict a departing employee from soliciting or hiring former co-workers to join a new employer during a short post-employment period.  This type of anti-raiding agreement is enforceable in Pennsylvania to prevent a competitor from crippling or destroying another business, but not to prevent a competitor from hiring away talent.  And courts are reluctant to find that an ex-employee has solicited anyone absent active pursuit of a former colleague: it is not solicitation to tell someone about an opportunity or a job posting.  Beyond that, courts have allowed no-hire agreements in limited circumstances where one employer places a consultant or expert with another business.  An employer may also require employees to repay training costs where an employee receives training and then  leaves shortly afterward.  Unions have the same power where a trainee takes a non-union job after training.

Like many employment law trends, scrutiny of anti-poaching agreements seems to have started in California.  The courts first addressed a class action by employees in the technology industry complaining of concerted action to prevent poaching.  The next major class action, settled last year, dealt with the animation industry.  But non-hire agreements have also arisen in less high-flying or glamorous industries.  Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice negotiated an antitrust settlement that banned non-hire agreements by two major competitors in the rail equipment industry.  This settlement led to a private civil antitrust class action by employees of the two competitors.  And in March 2018, a Pennsylvania Superior Court panel affirmed a lower court order invalidating a no-hire agreement in the trucking industry, as contrary to public policy.  The Superior Court has since granted reargument en banc and has withdrawn the panel decision.  The en banc decision will tell us whether Pennsylvania will join those who have rejected no-hire agreements, like Wisconsin, or will permit suitably narrow agreement like many other states.

And finally, the fast food industry has come under fire for using no-hire agreements that prohibit employees from working at more than one chain location at the same time.  Early in July, attorneys general in 11 states demanded documents from eight well-known fast food chains regarding the use of these no-poaching provisions.  So non-poaching agreements are seemingly in use, and under attack, at both the high end and more basic sectors of the economy.

If you have any questions about non-hire agreements, please contact Thomas D. Rees at 610-275-0700 or trees@highswartz.com. Our employment law attorneys provide businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout the Pennsylvania region, including Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Philadelphia and Chester County with sound advice and excellent representation. Our employment law attorneys deal with workplace issues in an ever-changing environment, and seek to minimize the risk of employee lawsuits for our clients.

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.

High Swartz Partner Mary Cushing Doherty Named LLS Woman of the Year

High Swartz partner and chair of the firm’s Family Law practice, Mary Cushing Doherty, was recently awarded the prestigious honor of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year for the Philadelphia area.Mary’s team, “For the Love of Jim – Hope for a Cure,” was in memory of her husband of 34 years, Jim Doherty, father to their 4 children: Colleen, Maggie, John and deceased son, Tommy. Her team raised over $120,000 for LLS. Jim succumbed to Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, double-hit (or twice mutated) in 2012, 13 months after his diagnosis.  He was a chemist who believed science would find a cure, and Mary has taken up this cause in his honor.The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Man & Woman of the Year campaign is a 10-week philanthropic competition for leaders in local communities across the United States. Candidates and their teammates also raise funds for LLS in honor of local blood cancer survivors, the Boy & Girl of the Year. The title “Man or Woman of the Year” is awarded to the candidate whose team raises the most funds during the 10-week competition. The top Man and Woman honorees in the country are awarded with the national titles.With a distinguished record of professional and community service, Mary Cushing Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division, and more. Ms. Doherty is an experienced and certified Arbitrator and Mediator. She strives for the amicable resolution of divorce when possible; however, she is a zealous litigator when it serves the best interests of her clients.Ms. Doherty has been a Course Planner and Lecturer for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1990 and for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute since 1985. She also has been a Lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section and Montgomery Bar Association. A highly sought-after speaker in family law, Doherty received the Lynette Norton Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Women in the Profession Committee in 2012 and also was one of the Legal Intelligencer’s Women of the Year. She has been named a Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction, and, in 2006, she received the Margaret Richardson Award from the Montgomery Bar Association, which is presented to a trailblazer who has promoted the role of women in the legal profession.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service 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.# # #

Franchisee’s Struggle: Creating a Viable Business When Someone Else Calls the Shots on Your Social Media Presence

Social media has changed the way we see the world. From its modest beginnings as a way to connect people, social media has grown into an ever present force that cannot be ignored.  We get the news (fake and otherwise), learn about new products,  and keep in touch through social media.  I’d imagine you’d be hard pressed to find someone without a profile on at least one form of social media.  Business are learning how to handle the nuances of social media on a daily basis.Unlike many businesses, however, franchises face additional and unique obstacles in navigating the already challenging field of social media marketing.  Specifically, when you purchase a franchise, you are buying rights to a business that already has a unique brand.  To that end, franchisors have an understandable interest in maintaining control over what messages you can and cannot transmit to the public at large.Social media’s ability to disperse negative news with unparalleled speed is well documented.  What might in the past have been a minor PR snafu, easily swept under the rug, may become a viral sensation that brings unwanted attention.   Accordingly, franchisors are reluctant to hand franchisees free rein over social media if that would leave the brand open to attack from careless keystrokes of a franchisee’s employees.That being said, a franchisee also has an important interest in its own social media presence.  The ability to interact with its local market is a vital component to gaining a strong and engaged customer base.  So social media cannot be ignored when trying to grow a successful and enduring business.Unfortunately, the franchisor’s and franchisee’s competing interests in the area of social media may limit the franchisee’s ability to use this powerful tool as he/she would like.  Fortunately, before agreeing to franchise a business there is an all important document that will provide you with the information on this topic (along with many other vital topics) that will allow you to make an informed decision prior to setting up shop.  Specifically, a good franchise agreement will contain information on who will be controlling social media sites, if the franchisee can even open accounts for their particular franchise, what policies will control any social media account that is opened, use of trademark information, how to deal with the inevitable dissatisfied customer, and much more. Understanding what the implications of this section will be as to the practical realities of running your business is crucial.Social media may not be the section of the franchise agreement that concerns you the most, but it certainly cannot be overlooked.  To that end, as you plan to embark on exciting business venture, the importance of consulting with an skilled franchise attorney cannot be overstated.  Having someone to guide you through the process and make sure that you are paying attention to and aware of the potential issues in running your business will help to set you up for long-term success.If you have any questions about Franchise Agreements, please contact us at 610-275-0700 or main@highswartz.com. Our franchise, business and commercial law practice group at High Swartz LLP in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, provides companies throughout the area with creative solutions based on extensive experience and legal knowledge and familiarity with the courts and the business environments of The Greater Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania region. Attorneys in our business and commercial law group work closely with members of our other practice groups to provide our business clients with comprehensive, efficient legal solutions.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.

Family Law Attorney, Melissa M. Boyd moderates MBA Family Law Section Meeting

High Swartz partner, Melissa M. Boyd recently moderated the Montgomery Bar Association Family Law Section Meeting held on June 6. The topic of the program was “Avoiding the Pitfalls of QDRO’s and the Valuation and Division of Retirement Benefits.” The panelists discussed the appropriate drafting of retirement provisions within Property Settlement Agreements in divorce matters. Also discussed were terms for Orders which ultimately result in the creation of a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) which is the mechanism for distributing certain retirement assets among divorcing couples.Melissa M. Boyd is a partner with High Swartz LLP. She concentrates her practice on family law including, but not limited to, divorce, pre-nuptial and post-divorce agreements, child custody and support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoptions, protection from abuse and juvenile law. She has dedicated much of her professional career to preserving the rights of children and their families.Ms. Boyd is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Board member of the Pennsylvania Chapter of AAML and member of the family law sections of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association. She is former Chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association. Ms. Boyd has been certified as a Family Law Arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.A graduate of Washington College and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Boyd has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell, has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for 8 years, Best Lawyer in America since 2016 and named among the 10 Leaders of Matrimonial Law in Philadelphia.The Montgomery Bar Association offers it’s members an important arena for networking, professional development and education. It also serves the community as a legal resource offering education, legal assistance and funds and resources for individuals and agencies in need. The Association is actively engaged in public service through community outreach, free educational events offered throughout the year, programs like the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project, the Mock Trial Competitions for high-school students, and more. To learn more about the Montgomery Bar Association, visit their website at https://www.montgomerybar.org/index.php.High Swartz LLP is a full-service 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.# # #

Joel D. Rosen Speaks at the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center Wall of Fame Induction Ceremony

High Swartz partner, Joel D. Rosen recently spoke at Pennsylvania Biotechnology  Center of Bucks County – Public Service Wall of Fame Induction Ceremony honoring Senator Joe Scarnati. The Public Service Wall of Fame recognizes legislators who have made extraordinary contributions to the success of the Biotech Center. Senator Scarnati is a great proponent of business and economic development in PA, and has helped the biotech center since its inception.Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati is currently serving his 5th term in the Pennsylvania Senate. As President Pro Tempore of the Senate, he holds the third-highest constitutional office in the State. He was born and raised in Brockway, Pennsylvania and represents the 25th Senatorial District, which includes Cameron, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, Potter and Tioga Counties and portions of Clearfield County.The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County is a nonprofit life sciences incubator dedicated to the creation of a world-class biotechnology center; to the promotion of regional economic development and job creation; and to the education and training of tomorrow’s researchers.Joel D. Rosen is Managing Partner of High Swartz LLP. With more than 30 years of legal experience, his areas of practice include franchise law, business and commercial law, employment law, trademark/copyright law and commercial leasing. Mr. Rosen has counseled numerous businesses with regard to general corporate and commercial transactions, including, formation, mergers & acquisitions, licensing, sales, and financing projects. Mr. Rosen’s corporate client base spans a broad spectrum of industries, including: biotechnology, franchise, weight loss, food and restaurant, consumer products, media and entertainment, software and technology and nonprofit organizations.About the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center: The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County seeks to advance biotechnology in Bucks County and the surrounding region, maximize synergies between nonprofit scientists and their commercial colleagues, and launch new ideas and discoveries that will make a difference. To learn more, go to www.pabiotechbc.org.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service 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.# # #

Be Prepared for Motorcycle Season

As the long cold and rainy spring of 2018 fades into memory, motorcycle riders across the Commonwealth are taking out their bikes and getting ready for a glorious season of riding.  However, the unfortunate truth is that motorcycle accidents can and do happen. Here are some thoughts about how to increase your chance to have a safe and happy motorcycle season.
  1. Make sure your ride is ready. Like any vehicle, motorcycles need maintenance.   Before taking your motorcycle on the road, check your oil, brakes and tires to make sure that they are in proper condition.  Worn brake pads and tires can make an accident more likely and make it more difficult to avoid an accident in the first place.  A small investment now may avoid large problems later.
  2. Make sure you are ready. Are your skills polished and up to date?   If you have not ridden in a while, your skills and reflexes may have diminished.  Your first rides of the year are no time to challenge yourself.   Please consider taking your initial 2018 rides in good weather, on uncrowded roads, and when you are rested and alert.  Consider a class or professional training if it’s been a while since you’ve been on the road.
  3. Proper gear is essential. While the wind in your hair may seem appealing, remember that you’ve only been issued the one head, and you’d best take good care of it.  Similarly, long sleeves and long pants made of proper materials may literally save your skin.  Your chances of surviving an accident with minimal injury increase dramatically with proper clothing and gear.
  4. Remember that you may see automobiles before they see you. Don’t assume that an automobile driver has you and your bike in their field of vision.  A brightly colored helmet or jacket may increase your visibility.  Beware of blind spots and try to avoid them, or spend as little time in them as possible.
  5. Check your insurance. Is your motorcycle properly covered?   Unlike car insurance in Pennsylvania, motorcycle insurance does not include payment of medical expenses.   Your personal medical insurance will have to cover your motorcycle-related injuries, so make sure you have medical insurance that is adequate to the task.
  6. Remember that a collision that is a fender-bender to a car can result in serious injury or death to a motorcycle rider. There is no metal box around a motorcyclist to absorb impact and no seat belt to keep the ride from being thrown.  Even a minor motorcycle accident can result in serious injuries such as broken bones, internal injuries, and brain damage.
  7. Don’t Assume What Other Drivers Will Do. It is far better to avoid an accident than to have to play the “blame game” afterwards.   It is therefore recommended that motorcyclists  assume that drivers of other vehicles may be distracted or inattentive.   Be wary of cars making or that may unexpectedly make left turns, for such turns are a frequent cause of accidents.   Don’t assume that a car is turning just because its turn signal is on, or that a car is stopping because it is approaching a red light or stop sign.   Watch the other drivers; if another driver’s body language does not indicate that they driver has seen you and your motorcycle, be ready to move or take evasive action.
If an accident happens, keep your cool.   Don’t play into the stereotype of the “reckless motorcyclist.”   Remain at the scene, check yourself for injuries, and call 911.  If you are able, take photographs at the scene to establish the position of the vehicles.  Exchange insurance information and get medical attention if necessary.  When the police arrive, do not accept any blame for the accident.   Even if you believe you are unhurt, it is not in your best interest to tell that to the police.  Many injuries only become apparent later, and that statement you made to the police officer that you are “all right” or “unhurt” may be difficult to overcome at a later date.After a motorcycle accident, you may be contacted by insurance adjusters seeking a statement from you.  Be wary, as the insurance adjuster may not have your best interests in mind.  It is wise to talk to an attorney before you talk to any adjuster to make sure that your rights are protected.   Similarly, seek counsel before signing any documents that an insurance adjuster may place in front of you, such as a blanket authorization to obtain medical records.Enjoy your ride, but be careful out there.    And should you be in an accident, remember that the attorneys of High Swartz stand ready to help with any questions or problems you might encounter.  If you have any questions or need assistance with Personal Injury, please contact a High Swartz attorney.  At High Swartz, we advocate for the rights of injured people. With offices in Doylestown, Bucks County and Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, our personal injury attorneys work with people who have been injured by the negligence of others throughout Pennsylvania.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.

High Swartz Partner Mary Cushing Doherty speaks at Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE

High Swartz partner and chair of the firm’s Family Law practice, Mary Cushing Doherty, was recently a speaker at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE seminar on June 4 in Philadelphia.Mrs. Doherty was part of a panel for the CLE “Family Lawyers: Don’t Be Overtaxed by the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act.” The panel presented an advanced analysis of what tax reform means in family law matters including the impact of changes to individual income tax provisions and  changes to business taxes that affect income available for support and certain business valuations.With a distinguished record of professional and community service, Mary Cushing Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division, and more. Ms. Doherty is an experienced and certified Arbitrator and Mediator. She strives for the amicable resolution of divorce when possible; however, she is a zealous litigator when it serves the best interests of her clients.Ms. Doherty has been a Course Planner and Lecturer for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1990 and for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute since 1985. She also has been a Lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section and Montgomery Bar Association. A highly sought-after speaker in family law, Doherty received the Lynette Norton Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Women in the Profession Committee in 2012 and also was one of the Legal Intelligencer’s Women of the Year. She has been named a Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction, and, in 2006, she received the Margaret Richardson Award from the Montgomery Bar Association, which is presented to a trailblazer who has promoted the role of women in the legal profession.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service 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.# # #

Joel D. Rosen Appointed to the Montgomery Bar Foundation Board of Trustees

High Swartz managing partner, Joel D. Rosen has been appointed to the Board of the Trustees for the Montgomery Bar Foundation. Mr. Rosen has been reappointed for a 3-year term.The Montgomery Bar Foundation is the charitable affiliate of the Montgomery Bar Association. Since 1987, the Bar Foundation has supported law-related educational, charitable, and humanitarian projects throughout Montgomery County. Grants awarded by the Foundation have been used to help the elderly, homeless, victims of domestic violence, troubled and underprivileged youth, and many other individuals and families in need. Visit their website at http://www.montgomerybarfoundation.org/index.html.Joel D. Rosen is Managing Partner of High Swartz LLP. With more than 30 years of legal experience, his areas of practice include franchise law, business and commercial law, employment law, trademark/copyright law and commercial leasing. Mr. Rosen has counseled numerous businesses with regard to general corporate and commercial transactions, including, formation, mergers & acquisitions, licensing, sales, and financing projects. Mr. Rosen’s corporate client base spans a broad spectrum of industries, including: biotechnology, franchise, weight loss, food and restaurant, consumer products, media and entertainment, software and technology and nonprofit organizations.About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service 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.# # #

How to Plan a Funeral

People love to make plans-the perfect wedding, that dream vacation, a comfortable retirement, the kitchen remodel.  Making plans is one of the great joys of life- except for when it comes to making plans for the end of it.Understandably, we don’t like to think about—much less make specific plans for—our own deaths or the death of a loved one. When we do, we’re often prompted by necessity—an illness, concern for the well-being of dependent children, or an insistent estate attorney or financial planner.But, even then, most of our planning involves tax consequences and the disposition of assets.  Those are certainly the most important parts of estate planning, but they’re not the only part.Too often, we fail to plan for the events that almost always follow our own deaths. And, if the purpose of estate planning is to lessen the burden on those who are left behind and to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are followed, funeral planning should be an essential part of any estate plan.When my own mother passed away last Spring, it was an event that put me on the other side of a terrible process.  And even as an experienced estate attorney, I was dismayed by the amount of decisions (small and large) I had to make on behalf of my mother; and I had to make those choices at a time when grief left me barely capable of deciding on what to wear each day.A lot of those decisions involved issues that, as an attorney, I had previously considered to be outside the “estate planning” process. I asked my clients if they had any burial wishes (i.e. cremation or burial), but that was the extent of it. The rest were details that I assumed were planned and decided within families. Unfortunately, as I learned the hard way, those details weren’t planned or even discussed within my own family, and now I assume this is the same for my clients and their families.Many of the decisions are small and simple, and easily made while making the sometimes more complicated decisions regarding assets. They may seem fairly trivial compared to what is to be done with the family home or heirlooms, or how investment accounts are to be divided, and therefore, they are easily overlooked. But, to your loved ones, who care more about you than your possessions, your guidance in these matters will be every bit as important.Based upon my own experience with my Mother’s funeral, here are some examples of things to consider:
  1. Funeral Home – The funeral home is important not only for the aesthetics of, or facilities for, any viewing or reception, but for the funeral director, who can be an invaluable source of advice and practical knowledge.
  2. Internment – Would you prefer to be buried or cremated? If buried, do you have a burial plot or a cemetery of choice? If you have a burial plot, do you have copies of the plot contract(s) to ensure there is in fact room for you to be buried? What kind of coffin would you prefer? Wood, metal, color, ornate or simple? Does your cemetery require a vault as well, and if so, what is your preference? Do you have a choice of clothing, a certain suit or dress, or something of sentimental value you want to be buried with? If cremated, would you like your ashes preserved in an urn or spread in some location? What kind of urn would you prefer?
  3. Service – Would you like a viewing, mass or a reception? A solemn and quiet occasion of remembrance, or a festive celebration of life with food and wine, and music? A small intimate gathering, or an open invitation to all those who knew and cared for you?Is there a church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship that you would prefer to have your service? If so, is there a particular priest or cleric you would want to perform that service? A poem, a prayer, a passage from a book that you would like read? A favorite reading or gospel read? What music would you like played and do you have a preference who sings or plays at your funeral? Do you have a preference on pallbearers?
  1. Flowers – Do you have favorite flowers or colors that you want incorporated in the funeral sprays at the service and cemetery?
  2. Photos – Do you have a favorite photograph of yourself, that embodies who you were or how you lived your life, that you want people to remember you by?
  3. Memorial – Would you like a simple tombstone, or something more elaborate? What material or design?  Is there a particular inscription you want? Are there other family members buried there that need to be included on the tombstone and if so, does your Executor have those details?
  4. Miscellaneous – Do you have any unusual wishes that your family and/or Executor needs to know about? For example, moving a buried relative to the family plot or language you want incorporated in your obituary or eulogy.
  5. Death Certificates– Your family should order extra Death Certificates from the funeral home, as they are readily available and less expensive than ordering them from Vital Statistics (which can take over six weeks). I suggest one Death Certificate for every account number (even if there are multiple accounts in one financial institution) and other assets (i.e. home, car), and about ten extra.
It’s not necessary that all or any of this be incorporated into your Will.  In fact, it is better that the last plans of your life are kept somewhere easily found and separate from your testamentary documents. Wills may not be read until after the funeral is over.Please understand that none of this planning will lessen your tax burden, or ensure the orderly administration of your estate. These considerations may have no economic value to you or anyone else.  But perhaps to your grieving loved ones, they may be the most important plans you leave.If you have any questions or need assistance with Wills, Trusts and Estates, please contact Stephanie A. Henrick at 610-275-0700 or shenrick@highswartz.com The High Swartz estate attorneys in Bucks County and Montgomery County support your decision to be proactive in protecting your family’s future. Our estate planning attorneys help you protect, preserve and manage your estate so you can reach your goals of safeguarding assets, planning for orderly business succession, minimizing inheritance taxes and making sure the benefits of your hard work go to your family.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.