Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C.
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March 2019 Archives

Wills for Heroes

Wills for Heroes is a program in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Bar Association that provides free wills, living wills, and powers of attorney to first responders and their families. Appointments are required along with proof of military or public service. There is also a limit on the size of the estate to utilize this service. Appointments can be made online at the Pennsylvania Bar Association website. Each appointment slot is one hour. Each participant will have their final, notarized documents to take home with them by the conclusion of their appointment. If a spouse or significant other is also participating, their appointment will be immediately following that of the first responder. The program is made possible through the time of volunteers including attorneys, reviewers and witnesses.

Blended Families

Divorce and remarriage is fairly common and can include new children in your life. Adoption may be an option to make those children your own legally. An adoption by a stepparent qualifies as a kinship adoption such that some of the statutory requirements for adoption are waived. As the prospective adopting parent, you will need to have three background checks completed prior to filing an adoption petition. Presently, the required background checks for Pennsylvania include (1) Child Abuse History Clearance; (2) PA State Police Criminal Record Check; and (3) FBI Criminal Background Check through the Department of Welfare. Your spouse and natural parent of the children would join as a petitioner in the adoption matter.

Interstate Adoptions

There are additional requirements to satisfy if you are adopting a child out of state. The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, which has existed for more than forty years, addresses adoptions where a child is to be transferred across state lines. It creates uniform legal and administrative procedures for interstate adoption matters. All U.S. states are members of the Compact and follow the same procedures. The state where the child presently resides must approve of the transfer across the state lines for placement. A copy of the approval is then submitted to the court for filing in the state where the adoption will ultimately take place. In order to get approval, a packet must be created with relevant information on the child or adoptee, the prospective parent(s) and the intended place of residence.

Adoptions for Same Sex Couples

Now that Pennsylvania recognizes same-sex marriages, same-sex partners can also benefit from the simpler process of a kinship or step-parent adoption. This means no home study is required. The adopting parent would still complete the requisite background checks. At the adoption hearing the court will verify that all requirements for an adoption have been met. The adopting parent(s) should be prepared to indicate their understanding of the responsibility they are taking on as parents.

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