Steckel and Stopp serves the wide range of needs of clients in today's increasingly complex legal environment. Our Firm allows us to cover nearly the entire range of legal practice. While many of our attorneys specialize in a particular practice area, through its core attorneys or strategic alliances, the culture of our Firm promotes a highly cross-disciplinary approach where resources and talents are shared across practice areas.

One of the most rewarding functions that the Firm provides is to assist families with the adoption process. An adoption is one of those life-changing events. The Firm can assist with counseling and preparation of the adoption petition, representation at the adoption hearing, and assisting with the procurement of the necessary consents pertaining to the adoption process.

Throughout its entire practice, the Firm has assisted clients with various aspects of business formation (limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, corporations and fictitious names); business purchases and sales; counseling on corporate law matters and assistance with business tax matters.

The Firm offers legal counseling services to a wide variety of charitable organizations from religious or religious-related organizations to service clubs, fire and rescue organizations, agricultural expositions, and the like. Charitable organizations are under the regulatory authority of both the State of Pennsylvania and the Federal Government, particularly the Internal Revenue Service. Often, charitable organizations seek to be recognized as a “tax exempt” organization under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. That process typically involves an application for recognition of exemption to be completed and submitted to the Internal Revenue Service for review. That qualification process particularly to qualify an organization as a 501(c)3 (a pure charity) allows the organization to solicit charitable donations. There are a large number of other charitable organizations in addition to the 501(c)3 classification. The Firm has represented charitable organizations for many years. As a courtesy to the community, the Firm offers discounted services to religious organizations and, a slightly lesser discount for non-religious charitable organizations as part of its citizenship to the community.

Unfortunately, there are times when disputes arise including disputes pertaining to boundary lines, contract matters, and the like. While the Firm strives to assist in the resolution of questions or disputes outside of the litigation arena, there are times when litigation is required to be invoked to attempt to bring about a fair and just result. Should the client’s concerns involve a legal specialty beyond the Firm’s core practice, the Firm will offer the service of assisting the client in selecting a qualified attorney within the legal specialty to address a client’s specific needs.

The State of Pennsylvania has created relatively low thresholds concerning driving under the influence prosecutions. Individuals who appear at business-oriented cocktail parties may sometimes exceed the threshold and as such may require legal representation to assist in appropriately dealing with the possible legal effects of what many times is a cocktail party indiscretion. The Firm can provide guidance and assistance in reviewing options to arrive at the best course of action when confronted with such a situation.

Elder law is the branch of estate planning which, in addition to customary estate planning goals, also considers the available choices for positioning assets to attempt to preserve one’s hard-earned assets against various creditors and expenses including medical and skilled nursing home expenses which concern many senior citizens. There are a number of techniques to qualify an individual for various governmental benefits while at the same time, preserving a substantial amount of assets for the person’s family (including a spouse who remains at home). Steckel and Stopp has assisted many clients in this continually evolving area.

The building block of any estate plan is an appropriate Last Will and Testament, often referred to as a "Will". A Will establishes how property interests owned in the decedent's name alone will be handled after the decedent's death. The requirements for a valid Will vary somewhat by the various state laws. A Will also allows the naming of a person who administers a person’s assets and estate after death. That person is known as an executor. Wills often contain trust provisions allowing for longer term management of assets for children and/or beneficiaries with disabilities as well as for other reasons. Estate Planning involves advising to minimize death taxes, and structuring to protect and approximately administer assets by employing a variety of estate planning techniques appropriate to clients’ circumstances.

Upon the death of a family member or other loved one, it often is necessary to pursue an estate or trust administration. Estate administration has been compared to the process of closing a business. All acquire property and other assets during our lifetimes and typically make various provisions for the distribution of those assets upon our passing. The event of death often triggers various death tax reporting and payment consequences to both the State of Pennsylvania and the Federal Government. The Firm’s estate administration department assists individuals and families with the estate administration process with a view towards limiting death taxes, income taxes and expenses. The services which are provided include items such as counseling with respect to liquidation of assets including real estate and business assets; completion of accountings to be presented to beneficiaries, completion of inventories, compilation and filing of Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax returns and where applicable federal estate tax returns as well as many of the other incidental and subordinate functions relating to estate administration. Family members may be called upon to help settle another person’s estate perhaps only once or twice during a lifetime. The Firm’s estate administration department can both assist an individual named in a capacity of executor with duties and relieve much of the stress and concern relative to estate administration. The Firm has lengthy experience in agricultural estate-related issues such as various tax savings techniques generally known as farmland valuation.

A lease establishes the rights and duties of the landlord and the tenant concerning the landlord/tenant relationship. From time to time disputes or disagreements arise in that relationship. The Firm can assist in attempting to prevent disagreements by carefully drafting lease provisions to deal with specific situations. If questions or disputes arise, the Firm can provide legal counseling and/or representation to attempt to resolve landlord/tenant contests.

The local district court, headed by a district justice provides a forum in what many call "small claims court" to attempt to resolve disputes relating to the collection of money, landlord and tenant issues, and miscellaneous items within jurisdiction of the district justice. Particularly for those who have limited experience with the district justice system, the Firm provides counseling and representation at the local district court level.

The Firm has served a wide variety of municipal corporations in its history including boroughs, townships, school districts, planning commissions, zoning hearing boards, and area-wide planning commission providing a strong base as a result of encountering many legal situations involving subdivisions, zoning issues, procurement, land use, and other governmental regulations.

The Firm also has had the privilege to represent private clients who appear before municipalities not represented by the Firm for purposes such as shopping center development, apartment development, industrial, commercial, and residential developments and subdivisions.

Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA's) The days following a serious motor vehicle accident cannot only be physically and medically challenging, they can also be legally challenging as well. Certain portions of the decades old "no fault" concept of motor vehicle insurance coverage remain in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Often your own insurance coverage is responsible for paying your expenses, even when someone else is at fault. Conversely though your own insurance coverage can provide you with important benefits you might not even recognize you have. (Not surprisingly, your own insurance carrier might not be so quick to point out the coverage following a loss). A prompt review by a knowledgeable attorney practicing in this area can clear up a lot of the confusion and assure you with coverage and benefits you might not know to exist.

The permanency of real estate has made real estate the subject of a large body of law relative to the use of real estate as collateral for loans, the division of real estate through what is known as a subdivision process, the restriction of the use of real estate by covenants or restrictions running against the land, the creation of easements or agreements pertaining to real estate including commercial leases, and the like. The Firm has assisted both commercial and residential clients with their real estate needs. Services include assisting in the preparation and/or negotiation of agreements of sale for real estate, examining titles to real estate, drafting deeds, mortgages, easements and other documents pertaining to real estate as well as conducting real estate closings. Since the 1970s, the real estate practice in the Lehigh Valley area, and in Pennsylvania generally, often involves the issuance of a title insurance policy to both a person acquiring real estate and/or a bank or mortgage company using real estate as collateral. The Firm is an agent for Commonwealth Land Title and Land America, premier title insurers within the title insurance industry and as such is equipped to provide title insurance to meet the client’s needs pertaining to real estate transactions. The Firm assists in providing counseling concerning various real estate tax elections including Act 319 and Act 515 (sometimes referred to as clean and green real estate tax elections)

Events leading up to one’s inability to provide for family and pay bills can be challenging and stressful. To further exasperate the issue is the difficult, time-consuming process of applying for disability benefits. The Firm can help applicants through application process.

When one buys a home, one wants to be certain it's safely yours. Even the most diligent search of the public records could fail to disclose a number of title defects.

Things such as a forged Will or Deed, or a title transfer by someone under age are examples. Or a married person conveying real estate without his or her spouse. Or fraudulent impersonations. Secret marriages. Undisclosed heirs. Invalid divorces. False affidavits. These are just a few of the items title insurance protects against, so you will not be in jeopardy of losing your investment.

First, a service known as a title search describes - as well as possible - the condition and quality of the title to the land you are buying. Then, your title insurance protects you against mistakes or threats that might otherwise result in financial loss to you - including those hidden, unknown things.

Your title insurance protection is a permanent assurance that your ownership and use will be defended promptly against insurance claims.

There are two basic types of title insurance protection - one for the mortgage lender and one for the homeowner or real estate investor.

If a mortgage is to be placed on your new home, the mortgage lender will probably require that you purchase title insurance to protect the institution's position as a holder of a mortgage loan. But this is mortgagee's title insurance policy doesn't protect you, the homeowner. You will likely desire an owner's title insurance policy to protect your investment.

You pay only once. There are no renewal premiums, and there is no expiration date on the policy. Yet the protection lasts as long as you retain an interest in the property.