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Lombard family law attorneySources report that former NBC news anchor Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque are likely headed for divorce. The news is not surprising considering the events of last November when Lauer, along with several other high-profile men, were accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. Lauer was fired for the alleged inappropriate behavior. Now, it appears that his marriage may also be ending. In the course of his tenure at NBC, Lauer is estimated to have made upwards of $100 million. If the couple does end up divorcing, their extravagant wealth will undoubtedly complicate the process. When high net worth couples divorce, there is much more room for expensive mistakes to be made. If you are considering divorcing your spouse and have complex assets or high net worth, read on to learn common mistakes you should avoid.  

Mistake No. 1: Letting Emotions Guide Your Behavior

Of course, divorce is one of the most emotional things a person can endure. It is completely understandable that spouses feel sadness, regret, anger, resentment, or even vindictiveness. However, when you allow your emotions to be the only basis for your actions during a divorce, the results can be costly. For example, some men and women are so anxious to divorce a spouse they can no longer tolerate that they agree to terms that are not fair to them. It can be tempting to agree to whatever your soon-to-be-ex wants just to hurry along the divorce process, but doing this only increases the chances that you will not receive your fair share of marital property or support. For high net worth couples, this mistake can be extremely expensive.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyMost people recognize the importance of having an estate plan in place just in case something unexpected happens. Depending on the size and nature of your estate, a comprehensive estate plan may include a will, various types of trusts, powers of attorney, a living will, and more. Sometimes, however, the unexpected “something” can take the form of a divorce. A divorce can dramatically impact your existing estate plan, so if your marriage will soon be ending, you will need to review and amend nearly every element of your estate plan.

Over the next couple blog posts, we will highlight several types of estate planning tools and how they might be affected by your divorce.

Your Will

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DuPage County family law attorneyIf you are a parent and are unmarried, separated, or divorced, you probably already know that sharing parenting responsibilities is not always easy. When parents disagree about how their child should be raised, conflict can arise which is not in the best interest of the child. Incompatible parenting styles can create unnecessary tension and complication in your family. One of the best ways to avoid conflict when in a shared parenting scenario is to sit down with the other parent and create a parenting plan or parenting agreement. A parenting plan can clearly designate each parent’s role in making important decisions about the child’s life.

Significant Decision-Making

The term “significant decision-making” refers to “deciding issues of long-term importance in the life of a child.” The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act outlines some decisions that are considered significant, including:

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Lombard probate lawyersThe term “probate” refers to the legal proceedings which deal with a deceased person’s assets and debts. The probate courts are tasked with determining the validly of the decedent’s will, if he or she has one. If he or she did not have a will, the court will need to have much more involvement in the estate administration. There is a bit of confusion about probate, and many people are not sure what exactly it is. Read on to learn the answer to the most frequently asked questions regarding the probate process.

What Happens During Probate?

There are several things which typically happen during probate. If the decedent had created a will before he or she died, the judge will verify that it is a valid will. A will can be invalidated or thrown out if it is not signed by the testator (deceased person) and at least two witnesses, was forged, or if the testator created the will under undue influence. A will can also be invalidated if a newer will is discovered. Next, the judge will appoint an executor responsible for managing the estate. If the decedent had a will, the judge will appoint the individual named in the will. If there is no valid will, the judge will often appoint the next of kin as the executor. The executor is responsible for paying the deceased person’s final bills, notifying creditors of the decedent’s death, filing income taxes on behalf of the decedent, distributing assets to heirs according to the will, and more.

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Lombard family law attorneysSince 2016, child custody has been formally known as the allocation of parental responsibilities in the state of Illinois. If you and your child’s other parent are involved in a dispute over how such responsibilities should be divided, you may have had several discussions with your child about the situation. In fact, your child may even very strong feelings about where he or she wants to live and how much time should be spent with each parent.

When you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement on your own, the court will be required to step in a make custody decisions for you. In doing so, the court will hear from both you and your former partner, but what about your child? Does he or she get the chance to be heard? The answer, in most cases, is yes, but the court is by no means obligated to give the child what he or she wants.

A Combination of Variables

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Lombard estate planning attorneyBeing the executor of a will is a serious responsibility. An executor is tasked with managing the estate of a deceased individual and must do so until the estate is legally closed. When choosing the executor of your estate, it is important to select someone who has integrity and is capable of fulfilling the required duties. An estate executor is responsible for paying creditors and taxes and must oversee any legal processes such as a will contest or an estate tax audit. Depending on the circumstances, the job of being an executor can last months or even years. Experts have some advice for those who are ready to choose their executor.

The Importance of Having a Will – Regardless of Age

Recent surveys have shown that a staggering 64 percent of Americans do not have a last will and testament. This is quite surprising because it is one of the most fundamental estate planning tools a person can utilize. A will provides directions for how a deceased person’s property should be managed after death and can also include instructions regarding any minor children the person has. Those who pass away without a will put decisions regarding property, inheritance, guardianship of minor children, and more in the hands of the court.

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Lombard family law attorneyIn September of last year, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a measure that amended several laws related to divorce in the state. The two biggest changes pertained to the calculation of spousal support, or maintenance, as it is formally known in Illinois. The law went into effect on January 1, 2018, so if you have recently filed for divorce, it is important for you to know how your case may be affected.

New Income Guidelines

For several years, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has provided a formula by which a divorce court is expected to calculate how much maintenance should be paid in a particular case. The formula is a weighted function of each spouse’s annual gross income designed to offer extra support in situations where one spouse makes substantially less than the other. Specifically, the law states that the amount of maintenance to be paid is found by taking 30 percent of the payor’s income and subtracting 20 percent of the recipient’s income, as long as the maintenance plus the recipient’s income did not exceed 40 percent of the couple’s combined income.

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Lombard guardianship lawyersIf you wish to be the primary caregiver of a friend or family member who is unable to care for themselves, one option which you have available in Illinois is guardianship. Guardianship can be granted by a judge to help an adult who cannot make general life decisions on his or her own. Guardian responsibilities are categorized into two groups: financial/estate responsibilities and personal responsibilities. In Illinois, there can be separate guardians for a person and their estate or the same person can look after the disabled individual’s personal needs and make estate decisions.

Guardian Qualifications

In order to become a person’s legal guardian, you must be at least 18 years old, not legally disabled, a United States resident, cognitively capable of caring for another, and free from certain prior felony convictions. If the disabled person in question wishes for you to become his or her guardian, such wishes will be considered by the court, but the court is not obligated to approve you as a guardian.

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Lombard family law attorneyOn June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states could no longer legally ban gay individuals from getting married. Since then, many same-sex couples have married, and some have chosen to start families of their own. Being a same-sex couple can bring up certain legal complications when children are involved, but fortunately, Illinois has measures in place to help potential parents obtain parental rights. One method some same-sex couples use to legally adopt a child into their family is second-parent adoption, also called co-parent adoption.

Second Parent Adoption Does Not Require Terminating Anyone’s Parental Rights

In most circumstances, when a person wishes to adopt a child, the child’s original parent or parents must terminate their parental rights. For example, when a woman places a baby up for adoption after giving birth, she signs documents which relinquish her rights to that child. A second-parent adoption is unique in that a parent can adopt a child without the child’s other parent losing their parental rights.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyAccording to a CNBC.com survey, over one-third of high-net-worth families have failed to take even basic steps to provide for their loved ones when they die and to ensure that their final wishes are granted. More specifically, 38 percent of people with over $1 million or more in assets have not created an estate plan.

Many people do not realize the ways a comprehensive estate plan can help them and their loved ones, while others mistakenly believe that they do not make enough money to qualify for an estate plan. Another reason many otherwise financially-savvy people do not have an estate plan is because it can be exhausting and overwhelming to try to plan everything on your own. Studies show that some individuals suffer from what is called “estate planning fatigue” which makes them less likely to have up-to-date, enforceable estate plans.

Constant Changes to the Federal Estate Tax Laws Have Been Confusing

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DuPage County divorce lawyersThe roles of women and men have changed dramatically throughout the last 100 years. Women have gone from being treated as second-class citizens to earning the same rights as men. Even the last few decades have seen a dramatic increase in women in positions of power and authority. Many more women are choosing to make their career a top priority than in the past, and this has resulted in more families with a female breadwinner. If you are the primary earner in your marriage and you are considering divorce, you probably have many questions and concerns. Every divorce is different, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Know What Your Rights and Responsibilities Are

When we think of divorce, many consider the higher-earning spouse as more of a liability than an asset. After all, the spouse who brings more property and resources to the table has more to “lose.” The law treats marriage as a partnership, and most assets and debts accumulated during the marriage are considered to be marital property. However, many spouses struggle not to feel like certain things, such as retirement accounts or savings, are solely theirs. After all, they earned the money, so they believe they should get to keep it, regardless of the divorce.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerDo you know someone who is struggling to manage their life due to advanced age, illness or disability? Most of us know a person like this in our own families. In many cases, it is possible to help a person manage their affairs by sitting down with them and assisting them with paying bills, making health care decisions, and other aspects of everyday life. While this type of assistance is fine in some situations, others may require more drastic measures. One such option may be for you to seek guardianship of the person in question, but doing so can be complicated.

Identifying the Need for a Guardian

According to Illinois law, guardianship for an adult can only be granted by the court, but before the court can appoint a guardian, it must first determine that the adult is in need of one. Specifically, the court must find that the person in question is disabled due to deteriorating mental faculties, physical incapacitation, mental illness, or developmental disability. The court may also find a guardian to necessary for a person dealing with severe gambling, drinking, or drug problems.

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Lombard divorce attorneyMost of us know at least one married couple who are living separately. In some situations, spouses may experiment with a “trial separation” while in others, they are living on their own as they prepare for a divorce. Living separately is a common precursor to divorce, but there are some things you should know about separating before you or your spouse moves out.

What the Law Says

Prior to 2016, the law in Illinois required a couple to live separate and apart for a minimum of six months before they could pursue a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. The standard requirement, in fact, was two years, but if the spouses agreed, the separation period could be reduced to six months. Today, a couple can only seek a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences in Illinois, but the separation requirement has been eliminated altogether. The law was changed in 2016 to allow couples to pursue a happier post-divorce future without having to simply watch the calendar for months. If the spouses do not agree on the divorce, however, a six-month separation period is considered by the court to be irrebuttable proof that the marriage has broken down beyond repair.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersAccording to surveys, only about 40% of Americans have a last will and testament and much fewer have a comprehensive estate plan. There are many reasons why people neglect to plan for their future in this way. Some people are simply unaware of the ways an estate plan can help protect their wishes and decrease the burden on their family. Others assume that they do not have enough assets or make enough money to qualify for estate planning. The reality is that everyone can benefit from planning for the future using estate planning tools.

They Think They Do Not Need a Will If They Are Young and in Good Health

In movies, wills are only written by characters who have just learned that they have a terminal illness or are otherwise planning to die. This is very misleading. One of the worst times to write a will is when you are in bad health. A person should write a last will and testament while they are still cognitively competent to do so. A will written by a person of questionable mental capacity due to old age, dementia, or another illness is very vulnerable to being contested, or formally disputed in court. Furthermore, there is no need to wait until an advanced age to write a will or create a trust which determines how your assets are distributed after your death. The best idea is to create a will while you are young and to simply update it as your life circumstances change.

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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorneysDivorce is a tough process for anyone. After all, no one gets married with the intent to someday divorce. Women sometimes experience different challenges during divorce than men do. There is no perfect way to end your marriage, but there are some things you can do to minimize your stress and help the process go more smoothly.

Take Care of Your Needs

Women often put other’s wants before their own. Wives and mothers are sometimes so busy looking after others that they rarely stop to think about their own needs. According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, getting divorced is the second-most stressful life even a person can experience. Only the death of a spouse is considered to be a more stressful life event. During this time, it is important to charge your emotional battery. Whether that means going to the spa, out to lunch with friends, or sitting in your own backyard with a good book, do not be afraid to take time to de-stress while your divorce is ongoing.

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Lombard advance medical directive attorneysAlthough it has been nearly 13 years since she passed away, many people still remember the name Teri Schiavo from the famous right-to-die legal case which spanned from 1990 to 2005. Schiavo was only 26 years old when she suffered cardiac arrest which left her in a persistent vegetative state. Although the young woman was alive, doctors explained that she would probably never gain full consciousness.

Schiavo’s husband felt that his wife would not have wanted to be kept alive through machines and fed through feeding tubes and requested that his wife have her feeding tube removed. The woman’s parents fervently disagreed with this plan and battled in court to keep their daughter alive. The case sparked increased interest in advance directive measures that allow a person to ensure their wishes regarding medical treatment will be followed in the event they are incapacitated.

Half of Elderly Hospital Patients Unable to Communicate Wishes

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Lombard family law attorneyIf you are a parent who is getting divorced or planning to, you are probably concerned about how you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will raise your children. If you plan on raising the kids together through a shared parenting scenario, you should know that there are some unique methods of co-parenting which have helped many families. These growing trends offer an alternative to traditional post-divorce living situations.

Nesting Arrangements

The majority of couples who get divorced end up living separately from each other. The most common living arrangement for parents who get divorced is for children to visit each parent at their home. Some experts find this arrangement to be especially burdensome on the children who are splitting their time between two homes. As an alternative, some parents are choosing to use what some call “the bird’s nest” strategy: The children live in one home and the parents take turns living there. For example, a parent may stay with the children one week in the “nest” home and then the other parent comes to stay with the children the following week. When the parents are not at the nest home, they are living in their own individual home. While many find this co-parenting strategy to be effective, it can also be quite expensive since it usually requires the couple to finance a third home for the children.

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Lombard estate planning attorneysFor many, estate planning is similar to doing your taxes. You know you should do it, but you put it off or procrastinate. Estate planning is especially difficult because it forces you to face your own mortality and have what can be uncomfortable conversations with loved ones about a time when you are not around anymore. Creating a comprehensive estate plan is critical to ensuring that your property and assets are distributed according to your wishes and that the end of your life is how you intend it to be.

Unfortunately, only four in 10 American adults have a will or living trust. The other 60 percent will have significantly less control regarding their property and final wishes than those who plan ahead. Luckily, there is no wrong time to start planning for the future, and there are estate planning steps that you can take at each stage of your life.

In Your 40s and 50s

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Lombard family law attorneyToday, families in the United States come in all varieties. More single parents and unmarried parents are raising children than in the past. Same-sex couples are also raising more children than they did twenty years ago. Families are often blended, with children from several relationships living together under one roof. Grandparents are also increasingly taking the place of biological parents in children’s lives. 

Voluntary Relinquishment

There are several ways that grandparents can get custody of their grandchildren. The first way is through petitioning the court for custody of the grandchildren. Both parents of the child must voluntarily relinquish their parental rights to the child unless there is another issue like abuse. Parents may give up the rights to their children for many deeply personal reasons. Sometimes addiction issues or mental health concerns make a parent unable to raise their child. Other times, very young parents relinquish their parental rights so that a grandparent or grandparents can adopt the child.

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Lombard estate planning attorneysIt is never too soon to start planning for your future. At every age, there is an opportunity to make estate planning decisions and preparations that will benefit you and your family in the future. The most financially successful individuals among us will tell you that it did not happen by accident. It is important to be aware of your financial situation and to be intentional about the way your plan for the future. At every stage of life, there are some estate planning steps that you should take in order to minimize complications or expense in the future.

Over the next few weeks, we will discuss how you can consider the future, no matter how old you are right now.

In Your 20s

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