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March 2013 Archives

Making Sense of Your Auto Policy

We have heard clients comment that they never really read their auto insurance information prior to their motor vehicle collision. Unfortunately, after you are in an accident, it is too late to make sure you have the coverage you need. Take just a little bit of time to do some "preventive maintenance." Here is our advice about the coverage you should have in place to protect you and your family.
TORT OPTION: FULL TORTThis is the most important choice when selecting your coverage. Always choose the full tort option which provides the most complete protection. If you do not choose full tort, you give up important legal rights. This holds true even if an accident is not your fault.The person who makes the tort selection binds the entire household and everyone covered under the policy. Selecting full tort is "easy." There are no forms to sign to select it. You actually have to sign a form to opt out of your rights under full tort.
MEDICAL COVERAGE: $10,000.00 MINIMUMThough you must purchase at least $5,000 of medical coverage, we recommend at least double that amount for medical coverage, or "first party coverage" as it is called in Pennsylvania. If you do not have health insurance, you may want to purchase even more coverage which will pay medical bills if you or a family member are hurt in a collision.
WAGE LOSS COVERAGE: CHOOSE IT!If you are hurt in an accident and not able to work, wage loss coverage will keep money coming in to pay your bills while you are off work. If you do not have this coverage, you must wait to get your wage loss covered by the person at fault for the collision. This process can take a long time because the wage loss payment is part of a one-time, lump-sum payment. Though Pennsylvania does not require that you carry this coverage, most people who become involved in an accident are thankful they purchased it.
UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED (UM/UIM) COVERAGE: $100,000.00 MINIMUMJust like wage loss coverage, this coverage is not required under Pennsylvania law - BUT you do not want to go without it. This important coverage protects you and your family if you are hurt by a person who has little or no insurance. To make this coverage even more valuable, you want to "stack" uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If you have several cars in your household, you can collect this type of coverage from another car in your household. This coverage may also provide protection even if you would be involved in an accident that does not involve your auto.
Full Tort + Wage Loss Coverage + stacked UM/UIM coverage = the best protection for you and your family.

My Military Service Records: How Can I Get a Copy?

Many veterans, as they left the service, never received a copy of their military service records, including treatment records. These documents are very important as they can reveal medical treatment for in-service conditions or disabilities. They often times serve as the smoking gun for winning a service-connected benefit.Most veterans can obtain free copies of their DD Form 214 (Report of Separation) and other military and medical records by requesting them online at the website of the U.S. National Archives. Go to www.archives.gov and click on "Veterans' Service Records", and follow the instructions. OR GO DIRECTLY TO the Military Service Records page of the National Archives at:http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/

Estate Planning in a Technological Age

When we sit down to discuss who will benefit from what we have accumulated during our lifetime, we start with creating an accurate summary of our assets and our debts. We talk about houses, vehicles, bank accounts, pension and retire- ment accounts, life insurance, investments and other things of value that belong to us. We also discuss our mortgages, car payments, personal loan payments, Visa and Mastercard bills and other similar debts. But what we sometimes forget to address are things that might not have a piece of paper that evidences their existence. What kind of things do I mean? For instance, many people have bank accounts, savings accounts or certificates of deposit in financial institutions that are not "brick and mortar" facilities. We typically think of visiting our local bank branch but don't consider online banks. As with so many things we find online, these banks require account numbers, PIN numbers and access codes. In a complete estate plan, it would be imperative for the representative of the estate to know that an account exists and other identifying information about the account. Without that information, access will be denied and it will then take additional time and effort to gain access. There should also be some instruction left as to what to do with things like email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other similar online social networking accounts. These accounts certainly contain a great deal of personal information and need to be appropriately terminated at the time someone dies. Your spouse, child or other trusted family member who is going to represent your estate at the time of your death should have access to online information. This information would allow them to terminate a Facebook account, resolve any issues that might exist with purchasing or selling items through eBay, transfer online photos, records and files and finalize other similar activities. Our firm has attorneys that understand the technological issues that face us in this digital asset age. We welcome the opportunity to help you make sure that you have properly and completely addressed all of the matters that will exist at the time of your death. We take many of these conveniences for granted in our day-to-day existence; however, the conveniences and the benefits that technology created for us may also create difficulties and problems for those we leave behind.

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