OWM Legal Newsletter

OWM's legal newsletters are free for all users. Browse the archives below, or sign up at right to receive OWM news in your inbox.

  • News and reviews of recent legislation - and how it affects you and your business.
  • Practical tips regarding taxes, estate planning, scams, identity theft protection, and many other timely subjects.
  • Advance listings for our Legal Talk television broadcast, plus other upcoming events.


What You Need to Know About Commercial Real Estate Leases

Commercial Real Estate Leases

Commercial real estate leases are a typical business expense, and many are quite complicated. Often leases are recycled by landlords, but are the basic terms of the lease correctly stated? Is there a letter of intent or term sheet? If so, the lease, as drafted, should conform.

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What is a Letter of Intent?

letter of intent

Letters of Intent are pre-contractual documents establishing basic terms which the parties intend to incorporate into a definitive agreement; in other words, they are “agreements to agree.”

They are used in many major business transactions, including the purchase or sale of a company, commercial real estate purchases, lease agreements, and several other categories of agreements.

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Why you should avoid filling out legal forms online

Make sure you have “people” when filling out legal forms

legal forms online

During tax season there was a commercial in which a woman was critical of her husband for using purchased computer software to prepare their tax return.  When her husband stated that he was “stuck,” she said, “Let’s ask the box.”  The point was that the user of the software did not have anyone to consult when he ran into problems or had questions.  They did not have “people.”

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Veteran Pension Benefits: New Rules Released from the Department of Veterans Affairs

va pension benefits

On September 18, 2018 the long-awaited final rules were released by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regarding pension benefits. The VA Pension is a needs-based benefit for Veterans that served during a period of wartime and spouses of deceased Veterans. The new VA rules dramatically change the current asset and income qualification rules for Veterans applying for pension benefits.

There are several changes to the pension benefit qualifications; however, the two changes that I want to highlight are (1) the imposition of a look-back period and penalty for gifts and uncompensated transfer; and, (2) a change to the requirements for income and assets, which the VA refers to as “net worth”.

Three Year Look-Back and Penalty for Gifts for VA Pension Benefits

One of the biggest changes under the new rules is the look-back period, and an imposition of a penalty for gifts or uncompensated transfers of assets.  The VA will now have a 36 month look-back at the time of application.  Currently, the VA allows gifts to qualify for benefits and does not penalize a Veteran who has engaged in gifting in the past. Beginning October 18, 2018, if the Veteran transfers an asset that is included in their “net worth” calculation for less than fair market value, a penalty will be imposed on the Veteran provided the amount transferred exceeded the net worth limit. Under the new rules, a purchase of an annuity with assets that are considered part of the Veteran’s “net worth” will also be considered a transfer and subject to the penalty rules unless the Veteran retains the ability to liquidate the annuity.

The penalty period imposed on the Veteran can be up to five (5) years. The penalty period is calculated by using the maximum pension rate and dividing the value of the gift made.

Net Worth Limit for VA Pension Benefits

Under the new rules, the VA will impose a limit on net worth equal to the maximum community spouse resource allowance for Medicaid. In 2018 this number is $123,600.00, this amount would increase by the same percentage as the cost-of-living increase for Social Security benefits. The VA defines “net worth” as all assets and annual income of the applicant. The assets of the Veteran also include the assets of the Veteran’s spouse. Where a surviving spouse of a Veteran is applying, only the assets of the spouse will be counted.

There are assets that are specifically excluded from the “net worth” calculation, some of those exclusion includes the primary residence if the Veteran is living in the house, vehicles, and personal property.

There are ways that the Veteran’s net worth, or the net worth of the surviving spouse of the Veteran, can be reduced. This includes, but is not limited to, the purchase of items for the Veteran or the spouse of the Veteran for fair market value. The annual income of the Veteran can be reduced by unreimbursed medical expenses.

The new rules go into effect on October 18, 2018, therefore if you are currently planning to apply for VA pension benefits there is a great advantage to applying prior to the effective date. For more information, or to read the new changes please click here.

Contact OWM Law at (610) 323-2800 to find out how these new rules will impact you and what you should do to apply for pension benefits prior to October 18, 2018.

— Written by Rebecca A. Hobbs, Esq., CELA*

*Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog are not legal advice, and are not to be used for that purpose.  If you are faced with a legal matter, you should contact a lawyer immediately in order to ensure that you are protected.

OWM Newsletter – Stock v. Asset Sale When Buying or Selling a Business & Don’t Procrastinate: Why You Need an Estate Plan

FEATURE ARTICLES – “Stock v. Asset Sale When Buying or Selling a Business” by Joseph K. Koury, Esquire and “Don’t Procrastinate: Why You Need an Estate Plan” by Rebecca A. Hobbs, Esquire, CELA.

OWM FIRM NEWS & UPCOMING EVENTS – Kathleen M. Martin, Esq. and David A. Megay, Esq. have upcoming information sessions.

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OWM Blog – Don’t Procrastinate: Why You Need an Estate Plan

Recent news headlines of well-known and affluent celebrities dying without an estate plan, has had me scratching my head and wondering, “why do people procrastinate estate planning.” I decided to ask close friends and family members if they had an estate plan, and if not, what were their reasons. Although I received answers of, “just not something at the top of our list” or “life is busy”, the overall theme was a fear of the unexpected. Each person I spoke with were aware of the importance of estate planning, they knew they needed to have it done, but they were not sure what all was involved. Estate planning is nothing to be nervous about, and finally checking this item off your “to do list” can be relieving. Let me explain the process and what is involved, hopefully if you have been putting off estate planning, this will help you understand the process and feel more comfortable. …

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OWM Blog – Stock v. Asset Sale When Buying or Selling a Business

When buying or selling a business, buyers and sellers have a choice: the transaction can be structured as either a purchase and sale of assets, or a purchase and sale of stock. Where the transaction is structured as a stock purchase, transfer of the ownership of the business entity itself results, and thus the entity continues to own the same assets and have the same liabilities as before. Where the transaction is structured as an asset purchase, the purchaser buys individual assets of the business, such as equipment, inventory, and goodwill, and the business entity itself continues to be owned by the same owner, often with dissolution occurring soon thereafter. The purchaser and seller may have various reasons for preferring one type of transaction over the other. …

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Retaining Your Individualized Education Program (IEP)


Many families have children who require an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan while their children are of school age.  There are many reasons why one may be needed involving emotional and physical issues that a child has in trying to optimize their education.  A plan is necessary and very helpful in obtaining services for students while in school.

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Title Insurance: Real Estate Transactions and Wire Transfers

title insurance

As the real estate settlement industry hustles, and struggles, to catch up with the pace of technological advances (i.e. quicker closings, remote settlements where neither the Buyer nor the Seller attends the settlement table, etc.), one of the biggest changes is the transition from the old standard of allowing realtors to bring their business checks for the deposits, and Buyers to bring certified checks or cashier’s checks for the funds that they need to close, to requiring all parties wire their funds to the title insurance agency before closing.

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