Think You’re Cut Out For Doing FSBO? Check this out.

Think You're Cut Out For Doing FSBO? Check this out.These days many homeowners are putting their homes on the market without the assistance of a real estate agent. With so much information available online, selling “For Sale by Owner” can help you avoid paying a realtor a commission and let you keep more money from the sale of your home. Although it’s easy to look up comparables in your area and research the local market to determine a fair price, the legal and financial complexities of real estate transactions require an experienced lawyer to review contracts, prepare sales agreements and ensure that the sale of your home goes smoothly from start to finish.

Advantages of Hiring a Real Estate Lawyer for FSBO

Hiring a skilled real estate lawyer in PA to assist you with selling your home can end up costing far less than paying a realtor a six percent commission fee. Your attorney will guide you through the entire process—he or she will ensure your rights are protected and help you avoid common mistakes that often surround FSBO transactions. An experienced real estate lawyer can help you come up with a successful strategy for selling your home, negotiate on your behalf and accompany you to the closing to make sure all loose ends are properly tied up. Real estate lawyers also have resources and connections that can help you find a reputable title insurance company, appraisers and other services.

Real Estate Purchase and Sale Agreement

A residential real estate lawyer will save you the hassle of handling the more complicated aspects of your FSBO sale. Once you accept an offer from a serious buyer, your attorney will create a real estate purchase and sale agreement, a vital document that’s designed to safeguard both parties’ rights and interests. This contract outlines many important aspects of the sale of property, including title condition, property details, final sale price, earnest money deposit, disclosures, contingencies and closing date. Your attorney may also act as an escrow agent by holding the buyer’s earnest money in a lawyers’ trust account.

Preparing a Deed For Sale By Owner

There are many specific details and language that must be included when preparing a deed for sale by owner. There are multiple steps, documents and standards that are required by all recorders of deeds in Pennsylvania.  A lawyer who is well-versed in handling for sale by owner transactions knows exactly what is required when creating and registering a new deed, including how to correctly prepare payments for fees and transfer taxes.  Having a lawyer prepare the deed will ensure that ownership of the property is transferred according to all local and state laws and requirements. If these requirements and procedures are not properly followed, transfer of ownership could be deemed invalid and result in costly legal claims down the road.

At Carosella & Associates, our experienced West Chester real estate attorneys offer exceptional legal counsel and real estate law services. Our skilled legal team will work hard to make your FSBO transaction  trouble-free from beginning to end.

What is a No-Fault Divorce

No-fault divorce can help couples separate amicably, avoid stress and cut down on family conflict. Simply put, no-fault divorce allows one spouse to obtain a divorce without the other spouse’s consent. Regardless of the type of divorce you may be considering, seeking the counsel of experienced local divorce attorneys is vital to protect your rights and interests.

No-Fault Divorce

If you file for fault-based divorce, you must prove wrongdoing by your spouse. No-fault divorce means that the person filing for divorce is not required to show any fault by their spouse. “Irreconcilable differences” is often cited in no-fault cases.

If your spouse does not consent to a divorce, you must wait a designated period of one year before you can seek relief through the courts including division of assets and any determinations regarding alimony. If your spouse has been in a mental hospital for 18 months and will remain in the hospital for at least another 18 months, you can file for divorce on no-fault grounds.

If both parties agree to the divorce, you can seek an uncontested divorce by mutual consent, which is typically granted 90 days after the divorce filing. Mutual no-fault divorce gives both spouses an opportunity to consent to divorce and avoid a long, drawn-out process. An uncontested divorce by mutual consent means that both parties give sworn affidavits declaring that the marriage is irreparably broken. In this type of no-fault divorce, it is crucial to have a lawyer draft a divorce settlement agreement, which outlines the terms of the divorce, rights and responsibilities of each party and division of property, assets and debts.

Filing for No-Fault Divorce

Before you file for divorce, it’s a good idea to make an appointment for a legal consultation and prepare the right questions to ask your divorce lawyer that would help to determine your best course of action. An experienced family law attorney can help you understand how divorce and custody proceedings work in Pennsylvania and prepare you for any pitfalls that may arise.

To file for any type of divorce in Pennsylvania, you or your spouse must have lived in the state of PA for at least six months. To file for no-fault divorce, you must first file a divorce complaint with the Court of Common Pleas in the county where you or your spouse resides. Your complaint should outline your eligibility for divorce in Pennsylvania, the reason for your divorce, and include any other matters you want the court to decide. These documents need to be served on the other party within 30 days of the date they were filed. It’s important to remember that even if you’re filing for no-fault, you may still encounter frustrating roadblocks that can delay proceedings if your spouse does not consent to the divorce. A divorce attorney can provide advice and more specifics on how to file for divorce in PA.

At Carosella & Associates, our skilled Chester County divorce lawyers  will help you determine which type of divorce best fits your needs and ensure that your rights are protected.

Divorce vs. Legal Separation in PA

Divorce vs. Legal Separation in PATaking the necessary steps to legally dissolve a marriage is often a challenging process. A competent, compassionate divorce attorney will not only advise you on separation and how to file for divorce, he or she will look out for your best interests and be there to support you through the process every step of the way.

Separation in Pennsylvania

So how long does it take for legal separation?  The answer to this question is complicated, as there is no concept of legal separation under Pennsylvania law. According to Pennsylvania Divorce Code, separation begins when you stop living together as spouses. Whether you are living in separate households is irrelevant; separation simply means that you are no longer partners and are leading separate lives. After one year, separation becomes a no-fault ground for divorce, even if one spouse is not in agreement.

Although you are not required to go to court to gain formal approval for separation, having a separation agreement in place is vital to address the division of martial assets and debts, child custody & support, medical insurance issues, estate matters, and how finances are to be handled during the separation period.


In Pennsylvania, your divorce may be based on either fault or no-fault grounds. First, you must file a divorce complaint with the Court of Common Pleas. Your complaint should outline your eligibility for divorce in Pennsylvania and the reason for divorce, along with any other matters you want the court to decide. These documents must be served on the other party within 30 days of the date they were filed.

An uncontested divorce by mutual consent (no-fault) means that you both give sworn statements declaring that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If you are in agreement on the terms of your divorce, it is essential to have an attorney draft a divorce settlement agreement, which outlines the terms of the rights and responsibilities of each party and division of property, assets and debts.

You may file for fault-based divorce if you can prove that your spouse:

  • Has acted in a way that made your life unbearable or extremely difficult
  • Abandoned you without a reasonable cause for a period of one or more years
  • Committed adultery, bigamy or domestic violence
  • Has been imprisoned for two or more years

If you are facing separation or divorce, seeking the counsel of an experienced family law attorney is vital to ensure your rights are protected. Whether you need an affordable divorce lawyer to draft a separation agreement or represent you in a contentious at-fault divorce case, our knowledgeable divorce attorneys in West Chester, Carosella & Associates can help.


Can you continue Operating your Business after filing for Bankruptcy?

Can you continue Operating your Business after filing for Bankruptcy?

Deciding whether or not to file bankruptcy is a daunting decision, but it’s important to remember that bankruptcy laws were written with businesses and entrepreneurs in mind. Filing bankruptcy does not mean automatic dissolution of your business—some types provide protections that often allow companies to continue operations after bankruptcy and discharge. Many large companies such as airlines and auto manufacturers have benefited from strategically filing for bankruptcy, as it allows them to clear up debt and restructure their business, which can lead to more efficient and profitable operations.

Regardless of whether you are thinking of filing personal or business bankruptcy, it is vital to consult experienced bankruptcy lawyers who will help you devise an effective plan to protect your assets and business.

How Different Types of Bankruptcies May Affect Your Business

How and when your business files for bankruptcy will impact its future viability and financial stability. There are several types of bankruptcy you can file, and each has its drawbacks and benefits. Before you file any type of bankruptcy, it is essential to engage the counsel of a knowledgeable business lawyer who can assess your financial situation and advise you on solutions that will be most beneficial to you.

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is a court-appointed trustee who sells your assets and pays creditors on your behalf. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, whether you can continue operating your business depends on its structure. If you are a sole proprietor, Chapter 7 may work well to keep your business operational. If your business is a separate legal entity, such as a corporation or LLC, you must file a bankruptcy on behalf of the business. Chapter 7 may be an efficient way to liquidate these types of business structures, but it means that your company will not continue to operate in its current form.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization option that is only available to businesses owned and operated by sole proprietors. In Chapter 13, your business keeps its assets and repays creditors through a repayment plan. There are debt limits that apply in Chapter 13, but certain strategies can help you get your debts below limits before you file. As a sole proprietor, you can include both personal and business debts in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy also allows your business to keep its assets and repay creditors through a repayment plan. It can be complex and arduous, but Chapter 11 is the only bankruptcy option that allows partnerships, LLCs, or corporations to reorganize and continue operations. Chapter 11 is also an option for sole proprietors who want to restructure and stay in business but owe too much to meet the eligibility requirements for Chapter 13.

If you are concerned about whether or not bankruptcy is the right option to preserve your business, our experienced West Chester bankruptcy lawyers at Carosella & Associates can provide the guidance you need to get your business back on track.


Do you Need a Lawyer to Write up your Will?

Do you Need a Lawyer to Write up your Will?Regardless of whether you have considerable assets, making sure you have a will in the event of your death is essential to ensure that your wishes are properly carried out after your passing. There are many sites on the internet that claim you can create your own will for little or no cost. However, seeking the services of lawyers who deal with wills ensures that all your legal bases are covered.

DIY Will or Lawyer?

There are many important things to consider when preparing a will. Although a will is not legally required in Pennsylvania, a valid last will and testament can help your estate navigate the probate process more easily. Without a will, laws of intestacy (state laws) determine the distribution of an estate’s assets, which can lead to family conflict and a long, drawn out process.  Unfortunately, if you are not well-versed in how probate works if you write your own will you may end up making the process more challenging for your loved ones. Probate and estate lawyers know the ins and outs of this court-supervised process, and can assist you with not only creating a proper will, but also help your family when the time comes to distribute your estate.

Some issues that can arise if you choose to forego estate planning and prepare your will without the assistance of a qualified attorney include:

If you become incapacitated, your loved ones may not be aware of your wishes. Powers of attorney, living wills, and advance directives are vital legal documents that ensure your finances, health care and end-of-life decisions will be handled according to your desires. An experienced estate planning attorney will take into account all of your wishes and put them on paper, so there is no ambiguity if you need someone else to make these decisions for you. Having these important documents in place will also make a difficult time easier for your loved ones.

You may not be aware that certain types of trusts can keep some of your assets from having to go through probate, cut court costs, save time and help your family avoid paying some types of inheritance taxes. This is just one reason why seeking the services of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is so important.

If you want to include a testamentary trust in your will, you may create the trust incorrectly and end up causing more headaches for your loved ones down the road. Having an independent third party who understands the complexities of estate planning review your financial and family circumstances will ensure that your wishes are accurately reflected and that your estate is distributed in as efficient a manner as possible.

The experienced attorneys at Carosella and Associates take your entire estate and family situation into account, and can help you create an effective will and personalized estate plan that fits your needs. For top-notch estate planning services in West Chester, PA contact us today.

Steps to Contesting a Traffic Ticket

Police officer writing a ticket for woman sitting in the car

You may think a traffic ticket is merely a costly inconvenience, but some traffic violations can have substantial consequences. Being charged with a DUI, leaving the scene of an accident and other serious traffic violations can lead to a revoked or suspended license, costly fines and even jail time. Seeking the counsel of experienced lawyers who handle traffic tickets in Pennsylvania may help you get charges reduced or dismissed and lower the number of points that are placed on your license. These four steps for contesting a traffic ticket can help you understand how the legal process works when you receive a traffic ticket.

1. Pay Attention to Points

Pennsylvania uses a point system for traffic violations. The more serious the violation; the more points placed against your driver’s license. Points for multiple minor violations can also add up quickly and put your driver’s license, auto insurance coverage and even your livelihood at risk. Serious offenses such as speeding in an active work zone can result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

2. Be Polite to Law Enforcement

It may seem obvious, but being rude or belligerent with a police officer will not help your case. Comply with the officer’s requests and respond politely and calmly. If you are apologetic and compliant, many officers will issue a citation for violation of PA Motor Vehicle Code Section 3111, Obedience to Traffic Control Devices instead of speeding, which will help you avoid putting points on your license.

3. Promptly Contest the Citation

If you believe you received an unfair ticket you can challenge it in court. To submit a not guilty plea, check the “not guilty” box and date and sign the citation. Mail it to the court that is listed on the citation in the specified time frame, which is typically 10 days. If you do not pay or respond to a citation within this period of time a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

4. Hire an Attorney

If you don’t feel confident about contesting your ticket yourself, it is vital to hire an experienced traffic violations attorney, which is often less expensive than paying hefty fines and higher insurance rates. Having a lawyer in your corner also increases the chances of charges and fines being reduced or dismissed.

Your attorney will review your driving record and the facts of the incident for potential problems with human error, traffic control and enforcement devices. If you are facing criminal charges such as DUI or were involved in a motor vehicle accident, criminal lawyers should handle your case.

An attorney will take care of negotiations with all involved parties, which may include the officer who issued the citation, the judge and/or district attorney; and will appear in court to handle the resolution of your case. If you are convicted, he or she can also file a summary appeal of your traffic conviction to the Court of Common Pleas to have charges dismissed or reduced.

If you have been charged with a traffic violation, our skilled West Chester criminal lawyer will protect your rights and work to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

When Bankruptcy is Not the Best Option

The stress that comes with being buried in debt can be overwhelming, and many people facing high credit card balances, possible foreclosure and repossession of other assets believe that bankruptcy is their only option to repair their credit problems. In many cases, this is simply not true.

Unsecured debts such as credit card balances are typically dischargeable in bankruptcy, but some debts are not. Student loans, child support and some tax debt will not be wiped when you file bankruptcy. If you are facing financial difficulties, seeking the counsel of local bankruptcy attorneys who are knowledgeable about bankruptcy laws in PA can give you a clearer understanding of your options for reducing or eliminating your debt.

When Bankruptcy May Not Be For You

Your debt is high, but not overwhelming. There are a few ways to bring down your debt without filing bankruptcy. If you own an expensive home or vehicle, selling them and buying a house or car that is more affordable can be a viable option to reduce your debt. It can improve or keep your credit intact and allow you to finance a new car at a reasonable interest rate. Although filing bankruptcy may wipe out your unsecured debt, if the majority of your debt is secured debt like car loans, it is possible that you will lose what you have paid into the loan and the car itself. When you go to buy a new car with a recent bankruptcy in your credit history, you will have to pay significantly higher interest rates.

If you have a decent amount of equity in your home, selling your home or refinancing your mortgage could also help you pay off unsecured debt such credit card balances as well.

You qualify for a debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate. With a debt consolidation loan, all of your outstanding unsecured credit accounts are consolidated into a new loan with one monthly payment. Before you apply for a consolidation loan, it is vital to consult with an attorney at a bankruptcy law firm who can help you determine which option will most effectively help you clear up your debt.

It’s also important to note that if you own a home you may be required to use it as collateral for a debt consolidation loan. If this is the case, filing bankruptcy may be a better option. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is similar to a debt consolidation loan in that it works as a repayment plan that consolidates all of your debt into one monthly payment. Although filing bankruptcy may affect your credit for a period of time, you won’t have to worry about being taken for a ride by a disreputable company or paying a lot more interest to get yourself out of debt.

If you are unsure about whether bankruptcy is right for you, our experienced West Chester bankruptcy Lawyers at Carosella & Associates can help you get your finances back on track.

7 Common Misconceptions About FSBO

The words For Sale By Owner on a home or house for sale sign put out by the homeowner who is also the seller

The number of Americans who are choosing to sell their homes by owner (FSBO) is rising. There are quite a few misconceptions about FSBO, and having a good understanding of what the selling process entails can alleviate stress and make it seem much less daunting.

1. You Need a Realtor to Accurately Price Your Home

It is easier than ever to determine how much to ask for your home. Many real estate websites list property values online–check out a few different sites to find out prices of comparable homes in your area; then come up with a reasonable number that’s not too high or too low.

2. A Realtor Has Special Skills and Resources to Market Your Home

Again, online resources can empower you to sell on your own. Most home buyers begin house hunting online, so posting your home on FSBO sites, Craigslist and other websites can give you all the exposure you need. Make sure to include plenty of good photographs of the inside and outside of your home, and include all pertinent information about your home, schools and the neighborhood.

3. Only a Realtor Can List a Home on the MLS

This is simply not true. For a flat, one-time fee, discount brokers and websites will put a FSBO home on the local MLS, which gives agents, brokers and buyers an easy way to find it.

4. FSBO Takes Longer to Sell

Regardless of whether you use an agent or broker, selling a home takes time and effort. As long as you get your home properly prepared for sale, respond to inquiries and schedule showings promptly, it shouldn’t take any longer to sell your home FSBO than it would if you used an agent.

5. It’s Easier to Schedule Showings and Open Houses With a Real Estate Agent

Scheduling showings and open houses according to your schedule instead of a realtor’s actually makes it easier. Meeting and talking with prospective buyers and their agents can also add a personal touch that may lead to a quick sale.

6. Negotiating is Difficult Without an Agent

While it’s true that most real estate agents are skilled at negotiating a sales price, a seasoned real estate attorney can also negotiate on your behalf, and will always have your best interests in mind.

7. You Need an Agent or Broker to Draft Documents and Arrange a Closing

Many real estate agents use attorneys to draft and review real estate purchase agreements and other transaction-related documents. Hiring a skilled real estate lawyer to review contracts and draft other important documents can cost a lot less than paying a realtor a 3-6 percent commission fee while still ensuring that the entire transaction is completed accurately and all legal bases are covered.

An experienced for sale by owner lawyer can help you develop a successful strategy for selling your home and ensure that your rights are protected from listing to closing. If you are interested in selling or buying a home, our experienced West Chester real estate lawyers at Carosella & Associates can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected from start to finish.