Sean G. Livesey Joins High Swartz LLP's Real Estate Practice Group

The firm is pleased to announce the addition of Montgomery County real estate attorney Sean G. Livesey to its Norristown law office.

Sean primarily focuses his practice on real estate matters, civil, and commercial litigation. He also has experience in zoning and land development, municipal code enforcement, real estate sales, and leasing.

Previously, Sean was a partner in his family practice in Conshohocken, PA, where he advised Philadelphia area startup companies regarding property acquisitions, business structure, and real estate tax liability. Sean also consulted with Montgomery County businesses to analyze zoning and land development proposals.

"High Swartz's real estate practice group shares my passion for representing developers and property owners while improving our communities in Greater Philadelphia. Joining Montgomery County's oldest law firm is an honor and I'm excited to contribute."

Prior to his private practice work, Sean was an associate at a large Philadelphia law firm’s commercial group where his practice included business litigation, real estate, zoning and land use. He represented real estate developers in Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Delaware County. Sean also represented landlords in complex, large-scale landlord/tenant disputes.

As an associate at a large law firm in Virginia in 2018, Sean represented the claims administrator for the NFL Concussion Settlement in negotiating agreements with health systems to incorporate professionals into a diagnosing physicians network. Within the scope of the agreements, former players could be diagnosed with such neurodegenerative diseases as CTE, dementia, ALS, and Parkinson's.

Sean earned his J.D. at the University of Richmond's T.C. Williams School of Law while also obtaining his MBA at Richmond's Robins School of Business. After graduating, he served as a Judicial Intern for the Honorable Thomas N. O'Neill. Jr., United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Sean grew up in Montgomery County, PA and enjoys cheering on Philly sports teams with his German shepherd, Zoe, a rescue from Memphis, TN.

Free Divorce Advice & Support Workshop

Do you know a woman who is hurting because of the state of her marriage?

Get free divorce advice from family law attorney and parenting coordinator Elizabeth C. Early and financial planner Tim Sieders. They'll be hosting a Second Saturday Divorce Information Workshop for Women.

Our speakers are family law and divorce lawyer Elizabeth Early from the law firm of High Swartz LLP, and financial planner Tim Seiders. Our workshop is held at the Blue Bell campus of the Montgomery County Community College. We begin at 9 AM. Doors open at 8:30.This month we are waiving our normal $20 cost to attend the workshop. Please call 215-699-6993 to register and to learn exactly where we will be on campus. For additional information about how you can get free divorce advice, please go tohttp://onestop4you.com/secondsaturday

Thomas D. Rees to Speak on Employment Anti-Poaching Agreements

High Swartz Employment Law attorney Thomas D. Rees will be speaking in an upcoming Strafford live video webinar, "Employment Anti-Poaching Agreements: DOJ and FTC Guidelines, Antitrust Violations, Horizontal vs. Ancillary Restraints" scheduled for Wednesday, April 27, 1:00pm-2:30pm EDT.

Employees are the most valuable assets of any company. They create and protect trade secrets and cultivate customer/client relationships. A no-poaching agreement is an agreement between employers and businesses not to recruit certain employees or not to compete on compensation terms.

The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division opened its first major no-poach case in 2010, when it filed civil complaints against several Silicon Valley companies--including Lucasfilm, Pixar, Google, Apple, Adobe, and Intel--for instructing recruiting managers to enter into "no cold-call" agreements, in which the companies agreed not to initiate contact with one another's employees and to notify each other when making an offer to one of their employees. The settlements cost the defendant companies more than $400 million. In 2016, the DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued guidance that warned that the DOJ could bring criminal charges against managers, recruiters, and C-suite employees who initiate no-poach agreements.

On July 9, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order to prevent anti-competitive conduct, calling on the FTC to engage in rulemaking to prevent the unfair use of noncompete agreements. Thereafter, the DOJ has filed criminal charges for the first time against a company for using an employee no-poaching agreement. A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging Surgical Care Affiliates LLC (SCA) for agreeing with competitors not to solicit senior-level employees from each other. SCA owns and operates outpatient medical care centers across the country. The charges demonstrate the DOJ's commitment to criminally prosecute collusion in the U.S. labor market.

The means of restricting future employment is important. Horizontal restraints are often unreasonable per se under federal antitrust principles, meaning they are deemed illegal without any inquiry into their anti- or pro-competitive effects. If a horizontal restraint qualifies as an "ancillary" restraint, it is analyzed under the rule of reason to determine if it is legal. To qualify as an ancillary restraint, the restraint must be subordinate and collateral to a separate, legitimate transaction.

Our panel will advise employment counsel on current enforcement by the DOJ and FTC of anti-poaching provisions in agreements that prohibit one company from hiring another company's employees. The panel will discuss recent cases that determine whether no-poach provisions violate applicable antitrust laws and what restrictive covenants may be enforceable. The panel will guide employers on best practices for achieving business protection through less anticompetitive means.

We will discuss these and other relevant topics:

  • What is the current FTC and DOJ guidance on anti-poaching?
  • When do anti-poaching provisions violate antitrust laws?
  • What are some current cases the DOJ has brought against companies for anti-poaching violations?
  • How can a restraint be seen as ancillary rather than horizontal?

After our presentations, we will engage in a live question and answer session with participants so we can answer your questions about these important issues directly.

For more information or to register, call 1-800-926-7926, or visit the Strafford website.

Ask for Employment Anti-Poaching Agreements: DOJ and FTC Guidelines on 4/27/2022 and mention code: ZDFCA.

What is Estate Planning?

Let’s start by understanding what estate planning is before moving on to why it’s essential. But hopefully, after reading through this, you’ll feel comfortable reaching out to an estate attorney near you to begin planning your estate.

What is an Estate?

To answer the question of what is estate planning, let's first begin with defining an estate. Webster defines estate as “the degree, quality, nature, and extent of one’s interest in land or other property.” More specifically, your estate comprises all the property you own, including real estate, cars, possessions, cash, investments, life insurance, furniture, and any other assets in which you own or have a controlling interest.

Now, here’s the question. What happens to that estate after your death? It really doesn’t matter if you’re net worth reaches billion dollars or more down-to-earth figures. What matters is what you want to do with those assets when you’re gone.

So, what is Estate Planning?

And that answers the question about what estate planning is. An estate plan gives you a say in how you confer your assets to your family, organizations, charities, or whatever. An estate plan leaves a written record of your intentions and presents how you want your property and other belongings distributed.

Beyond allocation of assets, however, an estate planning designates who carries out your wishes at death or even if you become incapacitated. And that’s why it’s best to speak with an estate attorney to make sure that the estate plan is ironclad. Unfortunately, many people fail to recognize the importance of estate planning.

Make Sure You Have These 5 Critical Documents

If you’re working with an estate planning attorney, you’ll want to focus on executing these critical documents.

1. Will

Your will represents a foundation document or any estate plan. You can elect to use an online service to create your own will. Or you can work with a will lawyer at an estate planning law firm. Either way, your will names your executor who administers distributing your assets per your wishes.
But will does more than that. It allows you to determine what happens to your possessions. Plus, it lets you designate guardians for anyone under your care. Moreover, it presents funeral provisions, if you so choose.
Sans a will, your property becomes subject to intestate law in Pennsylvania. Intestate law distributes your assets for you based on how the average person might have created a will when estate planning. That’s why it’s essential to work with an estate attorney to avoid this scenario.
Note that wills do not control the distribution of all assets. For example, they can’t control the distribution of life insurance, living trusts, or assets in joint title.

2. Durable Power of Attorney

What happens if you can’t make decisions on your behalf? That’s when a POA document becomes a vital component of estate planning.
A power of attorney appoints an agent to manage your affairs, preferably someone close to you that’s trustworthy. That individual makes decisions about financial and legal matters on your behalf. For example, if you’re injured and comatose, your agent manages your affairs.
You can activate a POA only if you become incapacitated. By the same token, you can use it to have your agent make a decision if you’re out of town, for example.

3. Healthcare Power of Attorney

Unlike a durable power of attorney that focuses on financial or legal concerns, a healthcare POA appoints someone to make medical decisions for you if you can’t. Often, people appoint spouses as their healthcare power of attorney.
As part of your estate plan, healthcare directives eliminate having your family members make impossible decisions about your treatment without knowing your wishes.

4. Advanced Healthcare Directive

Otherwise known as a living will, an advanced healthcare directive nominates an agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you’re unable. Without one, Pennsylvania law dictates who makes those decisions. Talk to an estate planning attorney about details surrounding this document.
Your living will spells out what treatment you want or don’t want—for instance, ventilators, feeding tubes, and resuscitation.

5. Trusts

By placing assets in a trust, they become the legal property of that trust. So when you die, those assets avoid probate court proceedings. Instead, your trustee distributes the assets based on your wishes.
Trusts come in two forms. First, a revocable trust retains control of assets with the freedom to alter the terms at any time. Your assets transfer to your beneficiary upon death and avoid probate.
Second, an irrevocable trust transfers assets to your beneficiary. As a result, you cannot change the trust without their consent. You generally create this form of trust to minimize your estate taxes or protect assets from creditors.

Numerous trust options exist. It’s best to talk with a trust and estate attorney to determine which works best for your needs.

An estate planning attorney can support you with creating each of these documents.

Why is Estate Planning Important?

Not surprisingly, your estate becomes most relevant at death. As mentioned, estate planning lets you determine how and where you want your assets distributed. As a result, it gives you control and a way to ensure your wishes get carried out as you intended.

But an estate plan affords other benefits. As you’ve learned, estate planning goes well beyond executing a will with your estate attorney. It includes:

  • Determining a POA to make financial or healthcare decisions
  • Medical directives that outline what treatment you want or don’t want
  • Beneficiary designations for who receives your money for life insurance, retirement accounts, annuities, and other financial assets
  • Trusts to pass your property to heirs that carry potential tax benefits

Estate planning is essential for even more reasons.

Estate Planning Reduces Taxes

Federal estate taxes impact the wealthy. For example, the federal estate tax exemption will be $12.06 million in 2022. However, six states impose an inheritance tax. And yes, Pennsylvania is one of those states. So, immediate family members pay 4.5 percent. But that rate climbs to 15 percent to non-immediate family members.

Estate planning offers a means to reduce your tax implications. You can work with an estate attorney to avoid taxes using one or more of these options:

  1. Spending down your assets
  2. Gifts to family
  3. Irrevocable life insurance trust
  4. Charitable donations
  5. Establishing a family limited partnership
  6. Funding a qualified personal residence trust

Work with a financial advisor or estate planning attorney to determine the best route for your situation.

An Estate Plan Avoids Probate

As mentioned, without a will, your assets fall under intestate laws, which determine what happens to your assets and who distributes them. The probate court assigns that agent.

Unfortunately, your assets effectively become frozen. The courts must sort through your estate, apply state laws, and decide how to allocate your assets.

Equally important, probate can take months or even years to complete. So you not only lose time, but you’ll wind up spending legal fees for a probate lawyer. Estate planning avoids all these delays and costs by creating the appropriate documents to manage the process of asset distribution.

Estate Planning Protects Your Children

What happens to your children if you die without a surviving spouse? Probate courts appoint a legal guardian such as a family member or grandparent without an estate plan. In addition, a third party can petition the court to become the guardian.
Most importantly, if no one steps forward and your child is under 18, they could become a ward of the state and enter foster care. But you can control who cares for your children by identifying a guardian in your will.

Ready to Start Planning?

You’ve gained some valuable insight into what is estate planning and why it’s crucial. So how do you get started?

Start by determining your net worth. Create a list of your financial assets, personal property, life insurance, and liabilities. Then select the beneficiaries for those assets. Equally important, determine your agent(s) to execute your wishes.

Finally, consult with an estate planning attorney near you. Our local law firm has offices in Doylestown and Norristown, PA. Our estate attorneys can talk with you and draft the essential documents for your estate plan.

So what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to plan your estate.

Careers

As a successful law firm for over 108 years, High Swartz LLP can attribute its successes to a dedicated, hard-working team of attorneys and administration. Our law offices have cultivated a workplace where individuals can advance their careers and develop long-lasting relationships.

High Swartz LLP has a longstanding reputation as a premier, general practice law firm in the Philadelphia metropolitan region. But don't let our age fool you. Our teams utilize intuitive and modern law practice management software and systems to seamlessly integrate our law offices with remote work environments.

We seek hard-working, dedicated, and client-focused attorneys and support staff ready to take their careers to the next level. If you are interested in adding your talents to our team, contact our law offices at careers@highswartz.com. Please find below a list of our current law firm jobs.

 

Open Positions

Please contact us for available positions.


Summer 1L Robert E. Slota Diversity Program

Every year, High Swartz participates in the Montgomery Bar Association's Robert E. Slota Summer 1L Diversity Program. This summer internship experience provides rich and rewarding opportunities for 1L students. But more importantly, as High Swartz sees it, is an opportunity to provide important real-world insight to law students. If you have any questions or would like to be considered, please contact Nancy Walsh at 215-896-6970 or nancy@tbdnowllc.com.

 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Nobody wants to think about it – hiring a lawyer. After all, Will Rogers once said, “The minute you read something you can’t understand, you can almost be sure that it was drawn up by a lawyer.” But face it. Lawyers are necessary. The question becomes, when do you need a lawyer?

Each year, cases get filed in state trial courts to the tune of more than 100 million. By the way, states conduct 90 percent of all court cases. Those cases involve divorce lawyers, real estate lawyers, personal injury lawyers, estate lawyers, and a host of other lawyers du jour. Indeed, search for local law offices, and you’ll see no shortage of specialties attached to lawyers.

In cases involving criminal charges, the local public defender’s office appoints a lawyer for you if you cannot afford one (how often have you heard that on television).

At times even those cases may involve self-represented litigants. For example, some folks would instead take the self-serve route to avoid legal expenses. And make no mistake about it. Depending on the complexities of your case, costs could be considerable.

Still, others choose to defend themselves because they feel their case lacks the necessary complexities to justify an experienced lawyer.

So more often than not, it’s in your best interest to work with a lawyer near you. In some circumstances, it’s essential. But when do you need a lawyer?

Let’s start with an understanding of the legal system. There are two legal categories.

  1. Civil Law: Civil law covers legal agreements, real estate transactions, divorces, custody, copyright infringements, etc. You file a suit against one party because you feel that party has wronged you. Plus, you’re seeking compensation of some type.
  2. Criminal Law: Criminal law addresses offenses that break local, state, or federal laws. There are misdemeanor charges and felony charges. The government entity employs prosecutors. The defense includes a publicly appointed lawyer or private defense attorney.

With either category, keep this in mind – the legal system is complicated. Apart from the basics of initiating a lawsuit, a myriad of obstacles and procedures await anyone seeking to file a case or defend against one. Even basic steps, such as figuring out who to contact and deadline requirements, can be difficult for someone ill-versed in court rules and procedures.

Lest you think a quick internet search will uncover the answers, think again. Even lawyers and attorneys become frustrated understanding and applying the appropriate rules. As an average individual, you’ll face a severe disadvantage when against another party who has retained a lawyer.

Lawyers Provide Insights You Might Overlook

Independent of procedural issues, you’ll need appropriate insight to make the correct decisions. For example:

  • Where should I file the suit?
  • What party should you sue?
  • How much should you request?
  • What witnesses should I call?
  • What arguments should be made?

Even if you think you have the wherewithal to handle your case, a seasoned lawyer can offer advice to guide you to achieve the best outcome with your case.

In personal cases, such as criminal matters or child custody, it can be challenging for someone to make these decisions with a clear head.

For example, the highly emotional nature of these cases makes sensible decision-making difficult, if not impossible. Hiring a lawyer ensures that you won’t make legal decisions that could hurt you in the long run.

When to Hire a Lawyer

As a general rule, it’s best to at least talk to a lawyer about your issue. Then, you can decide whether to hire an attorney or handle the case yourself. That said, some circumstances require a local attorney's services.

  1. Criminal Charges: If you’re facing jail time, don’t think about it. You need a lawyer. And the sooner, the better. You’ll want your attorney representing you during interrogations and in court.
  2. Family Law Concerns: There are many issues requiring legal representation from an experienced family lawyer – divorce, custody, alternative dispute resolution, marital agreements, and juvenile delinquency. Divorces, in particular, can get complex with concerns about property, investments, support, debt, domestic violence allegations, and custody arrangements. Moreover, the terms become binding. So, you’ll want to consult with a family law attorney near you.
  3. Workers Comp Denial: The Bureau of Worker’s Compensation can deny your claim for many reasons. And you’ll be facing both state and federal laws. You’ll need a work injury lawyer specializing in workers’ comp to support your case. They can help reverse the decision or negotiate a settlement. By the same token, if you’re an employer and you feel the claim is fraudulent, you’ll need a workers’ comp defense attorney to support your case. You can learn more about workers' compensation in Pennsylvania here.
  4. Injuries: Not every injury requires the need for a lawyer. But if you’ve been seriously hurt in a car accident or lost a loved one through a wrongful death or medical malpractice, it’s best to hire a lawyer to represent you. Remember that insurance companies either want to avoid paying for a claim or settle as quickly as possible to reduce the liability. You need to consult with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your options.
  5. Estate Planning: No doubt you can go online and create a will. You can even create a POA. But if you have a sizeable estate, tax concerns, or a complicated asset distribution plan, you need to talk with an estate attorney. An estate planning lawyer ensures each critical document in your estate plan gets appropriately executed to avoid disputes, legal issues, or probate following your death. They can also counsel you on reducing the tax burden attached to your estate.
  6. Business Operations: An experienced business lawyer is a must. They’re instrumental in supporting so many areas of your operation – business formation, taxes, contracts, employment law concerns, intellectual property, employment agreements, and much more.
  7. Law Suits: If you’re being sued and the other side has an attorney, make sure you have one, too. Even if the case never gets to court, you’ll want a lawyer on your side to help negotiate a settlement. For example, with car accidents, the average settlement ranges from $20,000 to $30,000 – assuming the plaintiff’s injuries weren’t serious. If you’re defending yourself with that kind of money on the line, you need to hire a lawyer. Their fees pale in comparison to a high-dollar settlement.

There may be other circumstances that dictate you need a lawyer. Generally, heed this advice. The more serious the legal issue, the more demanding it requires legal representation.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

If you’re facing any of the circumstances mentioned earlier, get in touch with our law offices in Doylestown and Norristown, PA. Our nearby lawyers can support you with virtually any legal concern, from divorce and litigation to immigration and dog bites.

Plus, you’ll be working with one of the Best Law Firms, as cited by U.S. News. That publication also named 14 High Swartz Attorneys as Best Lawyers in America.