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  • May 23, 2019

A Primer on Pennsylvania Church Law

Pennsylvania church law is rooted in the history of the Commonwealth, described by the United States District Court as “the woods to which Penn led the Religious Society of Friends to enjoy the blessings of religious liberty.” United States v. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Religious Soc. of Friends, 753 F. Supp. 1300, 1306 (1990).   As such, Pennsylvania state law shows great deference to churches and other religious organizations in all aspects of faith, worship, and sacred practice.  Over the years, however, Pennsylvania courts have increasingly asserted the dominance of secular law over the spiritual in all matters not directly touching…

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  • May 10, 2018

Competing Life Insurance Claims Between the Spouses in a First and Second Marriage

Family law can not only put a husband and wife in adversarial litigation; but also create competing claims between the spouses in a first and second marriage.  Consider the following situation faced by the Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew Family Law Practice group. A divorced husband was obligated by the Court’s judgment to provide life insurance for the benefit of his divorced wife.  Over time, the husband remarried. The new couple made reciprocal Wills benefiting one another, and each changed their life insurance beneficiary to name the other.  When the husband unexpectedly died, both the first and second spouse make claim…

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  • April 3, 2018

Donor Advised Funds Top Planning Tools Under New Tax Law

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) went into effect on January 1, 2018. Economists argue over the winners and the losers, but one obvious loser was charitable donations and the charities that depend on them. The new tax law nearly doubles the standard deduction in 2018 — to $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for joint filers younger than age 65 — while capping or eliminating other deductions. This means it will no longer make sense for as many taxpayers to itemize deductions. In 2017, 30% of taxpayers itemized; under the new tax law that is expected to drop to…

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