College-Bound Kids? Why a Power of Attorney is More Important Than Ever

With the possibility of students returning to school during a pandemic, making sure they make the right decisions regarding their health is paramount.

Colleges and univerisities across the country are releasing their return-to-school plans in an effort to address the uncertainty for students and staff. Will in-class teaching be available? Will every student be able to attend? What about safety practices and social distancing? All of these questions will need to be addressed before any decision can be made. And with the unpredictability of the coronavirus, those plans could change in an instant.

Whether your child is a freshman or returning senior, the most important question you’ll ask yourself is whether it will be a safe place for them. What will happen if my child gets sick or hurt? For this reason, more importantly, it is also time for them to consider a Medical Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney.

Why do I need a medical power of attorney for my college-bound child?

Doctors, hospitals and even the college they are attending are limited in what information can be shared with parents or other adults. Without a Medical Power of Attorney, a parent, even one paying their tuition, covering their health insurance and claiming them as a dependent on their tax return, could be helpless to aid their adult child if an emergency arises. A Power of Attorney for medical and financial matters allows your college-bound child to appoint someone to handle these matters for them if they are unable or unavailable to handle it themselves.

You cannot rely on documents executed through the school since they are limited to accessing school records and in limited circumstances, to medical treatment at the school only. To assist your student or any young adult, a power of attorney, which includes access to medical records and treatment must be executed. It is best to have these documents drafted by an estates attorney and not rely on forms downloaded from the internet as they may not meet all of the necessary legal requirements.

Proper planning can 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, a Durable Power of Attorney will allow their agent to handle banking transactions, sign tax returns and many other types of matters for them.

A young adult, or any adult for that matter, should take the time to be sure these documents are in place before they become necessary. Please call one of our estate planning attorneys for more information.

If you have any questions about a Medical Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney, please contact the estate planning attorneys at High Swartz at 610-275-0700 or via our contact form.

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.

2021 *Updated* Real Estate Tax Appeal Deadlines in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Tax appeal deadlines are approaching for the filing of tax appeals throughout Pennsylvania. Make sure you know when your appeal must be submitted to be considered for the 2021 tax year.

PA County Important Dates

Montgomery County: The official deadline for filing appeals in Montgomery County is August 1 – since that date falls on a Saturday this year, applicants would be advised to submit their application by July 31.

Chester County and Bucks County: Both use the first business day in August as the deadline, which this year will be August 3.

Delaware County has undergone a countywide reassessment for 2021 (read more about that process here) and will allow appeals to be filed until September 1. This deadline was pushed from the original date of August 10 pursuant to an emergency order of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.

Philadelphia County: appeals are due no later than the first Monday in October, which falls on October 5.

Deadlines in most other counties throughout Pennsylvania are between August 1 and October 1.

Property assessments – and the tax bills that are calculated from them – are often very difficult for property owners to interpret and fully understand. Assessments are often some percentage of actual fair market value, and determining your property’s actual fair market value can be a bit complex.

A challenge to your property’s assessment is usually best supported for residential properties by evidence such as an appraisal, recent sales data for comparable properties, or other sources of information and support. Several other factors might be considered for commercial or investment properties, like the cost approach or income approach to valuation, each of which can involve compiling significant amounts of data and applying nuanced analysis and legal arguments. Real estate attorney Bill Kerr addresses the questions some commercial property owners may have here.

Our real estate lawyers have years of experience representing property owners in counties all across the state in appeals on properties ranging from single family homes to high-value commercial properties to multi-million dollar affordable or market rate apartment complexes. In many counties, the reduced assessment our attorneys are able to achieve will remain in place for many years, resulting in savings year after year.

We recommend consulting with a tax assessment attorney to discuss your property’s value and analyze the potential to realize significant tax savings by filing an assessment appeal. Call 610.275.0700 or email szaffuto@highswartz.com or wkerr@highswartz.com.