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DuPage County family law attorney child custody

During a divorce, one or both spouses may seek counseling or therapy. Due to the universal Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Agreement, patients are reassured that the sessions are private. However, it is possible your therapy records could end up in the courtroom during your divorce proceeding. When this occurs, it is important to hire a family law attorney to protect your rights. 

Record Contents

Typically, if you are attending therapy or seeking the help of a professional counselor, you may have overwhelming issues that affect you psychologically and hinder your daily activities. Discussing them with an unbiased individual can be comforting and allow you to process your emotions. Problems may involve alcohol/drug addiction, a tragic event, or mental health issues. Within a divorce proceeding, these issues may negatively affect spousal support, and/or the allocation of parental responsibilities.  

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Wheaton family law attorney estate planning

Many of our clients would like the benefits of using a trust but want to retain control over their property while living. For them, a pour-over will might be exactly what they need to accomplish their estate planning goals.

This type of will transfers all remaining assets to a living trust when the testator, or creator of the will, dies. In other words, the will does not identify who will be the beneficiary of each asset. Instead, that information is contained in the trust, and assets are “poured” into the trust when the testator passes away. The successor trustee collects property and then distributes it according to the trust document.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerProbating an estate can be difficult work for the designated party. The legally assigned representative of the deceased person’s estate is known as the executor. He or she has many responsibilities, including safekeeping estate assets and determining the validity of claims. After paying off claims, the executor needs to distribute assets according to the will.

Certain estates are so small or simple that an executor might not even need to probate the estate. But for others, probate can take months of detailed, grueling work. If you have been named as an executor, you may be wondering if you can get paid. The answer is “Yes,” but the amount can be difficult to calculate.

No Percentage of the Estate

In some states, the executor can claim a percentage of the estate. For example, in Florida, the executor is entitled to a particular percentage based on the estate’s size. If extraordinary service was required, the executor can request additional compensation.

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Wheaton divorce attorney

When a couple decides to call it quits, one or both spouses may file for divorce. However, in some cases, one spouse may walk out without an explanation, leaving the other spouse to wonder about his or her whereabouts. If you wish to get a divorce but are unsure where your spouse is, be sure to contact a knowledgeable family law attorney to help resolve this complex situation.

Publication Divorce 

If a spouse would like to get a divorce but is unable to find their spouse, Illinois law allows “divorce by publication.” Publication divorce occurs only after a judge has been convinced that the divorcing spouse is unable to find the missing spouse after extensive searching. Extensive searching may include:

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Lombard estate planning lawyerThe world of estate planning can be complicated, to say the least. If you have started researching your estate planning options, you may understandably be feeling overwhelmed. It can be challenging to know which types of estate planning tools will best help you meet your financial goals. You may have already decided to create a last will and testament but worry that a will alone will not satisfy all of your needs. One option to consider is a testamentary trust or “will trust.” For help determining which estate planning tools are best for your unique situation, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.

What is a Testamentary Trust?

A testamentary trust is a trust that is in conjunction with a will. If an individual decides to create a testamentary trust, he or she will assign a trustee to manage and distribute his or her assets to the designated beneficiaries as per the directions in his or her will. Unlike a living trust, a testamentary trust does not go into effect until the trust maker, also called the trustor or grantor, passes away. Upon the trustor’s death, the executor of the estate is instructed by the trust provision in the will to create the trust. Although trusts typically avoid probate, the will must still go through the probate process in order for the authenticity of the will to be confirmed.

After probate, the trust goes into effect and the executor transfers the estate assets to the trust. The trust assets often include proceeds from the trustor’s life insurance policy or other sources as well. The trustee then manages the property owned by the trust until the trust expires and the property is distributed to the beneficiaries.

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Lombard, IL family law attorney parental rights

Millions of parents in the United States suffer from emotional, physical, and intellectual disabilities. Within the state of Illinois, over 3 million people have children under the age of 18. Of those 3 million or so parents, 177,500 suffer from a disability. Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established in 1990, parents are still experiencing discrimination within their parental rights due to their disability. If you or your spouse is seeking a divorce, and you are worried about the future of your parental responsibilities because of your disability, it is important to consult with a family law attorney to protect your rights.

The Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA forbids discrimination and promises that those with disabilities are allowed the same rights as everyone else, including equal employment opportunities, participation in state and local government programs and services, and fair legal settlements. Although parents with disabilities may be able to provide exceptional care for their children, the court always considers the best interest of the child when making a final decision. To determine this, a judge will look at factors such as the relationship between the child and each parent, and the age and health of the child. 

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Wheaton divorce attorney child custody

According to the Addiction Center, more than 90 percent of people who have an addiction started to use drugs or drink alcohol before they were 18 years old. Problems with drugs or alcohol may impact a person’s professional and personal life. Substance abuse is one of the most common reasons for divorce. Since substance abuse can affect many different aspects of a divorce proceeding, it is important to consult with a skilled family law attorney to ensure that parental rights and responsibilities are protected. In some cases, a spouse’s addiction may influence the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody). 

A Child’s Best Interest

Within the state of Illinois, the allocation of parental responsibilities is heavily based on a child’s best interest. Typically, both parents will split time with the child. However, if substance abuse plays a role in the child custody battle, the judge may determine that an arrangement of that nature would not be suitable for the child’s well-being. 

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DuPage County family law attorney prenuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement, typically known as a prenup, is a written contract created by two individuals prior to their marriage. This legally binding document establishes the future of any separate and marital property and/or assets, debts, and estate plan for each spouse in the event of a divorce. The state of Illinois has its own laws on what can and cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement, so before you sign on the dotted line, make sure to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney to verify the validity.

Important Issues to Address in a Prenup

A prenup is not a one-size-fits-all arrangement, meaning the elements that one couple may address in their agreement might not be appropriate for another couple’s situation. However, the topics listed below are a few general ideas you may want to consider including in your agreement:

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Lombard trusts attorneysA trust is an estate planning tool that can hold property for the benefit of beneficiaries. There are many different types of trusts that can serve a wide range of purposes. Trusts fall into two main categories: revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts. A revocable trust is created by a grantor during his or her lifetime and may then be modified or revoked at any time. Irrevocable trusts, on the other hand, cannot be charged or revoked after their creation. However, there are certain situations in which an irrevocable trust can be modified or terminated.

Benefits of an Irrevocable Trust

Many people choose to use a trust to transfer assets to a beneficiaries instead of a will. The person who makes the will, called the grantor, transfers property to the trust and designates a trustee to manage the trust. Once the grantor passes away, the assets held by the trust are distributed to beneficiaries. The beneficiaries of a trust may be family members, friends, or entities such as nonprofit organizations. When the grantor transfers assets to an irrevocable trust, he or she relinquishes control of these assets and the assets are now owned by the trust. Because the assets are no longer owned by the grantor, they no longer influence the grantor’s tax liability or the value of his or her estate. Irrevocable trusts also offer protection from creditors and lawsuits.

Modifying an Irrevocable Trust

There are only a few different ways that an irrevocable trust may be modified or revoked. The trustee or beneficiary of a trust may petition the court to request a trust modification or revocation. The Illinois Virtual Representation Statute allows certain trustees and beneficiaries to alter an irrevocable trust without having to go through the court. The easiest and most straightforward way to change or revoke a trust is for the grantor and all potential beneficiaries to agree to the change and sign a consent modification document. A grantor may also be able to petition the court to revoke a trust based on mistake. For example, if there is evidence that the grantor was told that the trust would be revocable, the court may allow the trust to be terminated.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_digital-assets-tablet-estate-planning.jpgThe last several decades have involved some of the most significant technological advances in all of human history. Most people now own cell phones that can take pictures and video, store electronic files, access the internet, and much more. You may use your cell phone, tablet, or computer to pay your bills, interact with friends and family on social media, communicate with colleagues via email, and complete many other responsibilities. Have you ever considered what will happen to this digital information if you become incapacitated or pass away? Through a comprehensive estate plan, you can account for digital items like photographs, files, and other electronic assets.

Start by Listing All of your Important Digital Assets and Expenses

Only about 40 percent of Americans have a will or any other estate planning tools in place. There are many different reasons that people procrastinate estate planning. Some are simply overwhelmed and unsure of where to even start. Planning for your digital assets can be especially challenging if you are not particularly “tech savvy.”

Fortunately, you do not need to be a computer expert in order to create an estate plan that accounts for digital assets. The first step you should take is to inventory all of the online accounts and files that are important to you. You may want to list your:

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DuPage County child support attorney

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have had to lay off or terminate their employees for a period of time in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. Losing your job for any reason can be alarming, especially if you have children. Being unemployed can affect your finances, as well as your mental and emotional health. In addition, if you are a divorced parent, it can impact your ability to pay child support. In Illinois, child support is a legal order made as part of a divorce judgment, and the amount of child support payments is based on the needs of the children, as well as both parents’ financial situations. This type of support is meant to pay for children’s necessities, such as food and clothing. If you have recently lost your job, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities regarding child support payments according to Illinois law.

What to Do if You Cannot Pay Child Support

Within the state of Illinois, you are required to follow the court's orders regarding payment of child support, regardless of your current circumstances. If you miss any payments while you are unemployed, you will still have to pay them at some point, and interest may be applied to past-due payments. Missing payments could result in significant penalties, including fines, the loss of your driver's license, or even jail time. To save yourself from potential legal trouble, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits that will allow you to meet your obligations, and you can take steps to modify your child support order based on your financial circumstances.

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Wheaton asset division attorney pet ownership

Pets are often considered members of the family. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 68 percent of American households have a pet. In the event of a divorce, pets are often included within the property and asset division process, and ownership of a pet may be awarded to one spouse. If a couple cannot agree on who gets to keep the pet, this decision may be made by the court.A judge will consider what is best for the health and well-being of the pet. In some cases, a shared visitation arrangement may be made, similar to ones made in child custody cases.

Marital Property 

Within the state of Illinois, a marital asset is considered property and/or assets that were acquired during a couple's marriage. Many couples purchase or adopt a dog or cat after they tie the knot as a way of expanding their family. In these situations, their furry companion would be considered marital property. 

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Lombard estate planning attorneysYou have worked hard to earn the property that you currently own so it is understandable that you would want to have control over who inherits this property upon your death. Disinheritance refers to the act of purposely excluding someone from your will in particular or your estate plans in general. There are many different reasons that a person may choose to disinherit an heir. He or she may have ended his or her relationship with the heir due to abuse or conflict, have concerns about how the heir would spend inheritance funds, or simply believe that the heir is financially secure enough to miss out on an inheritance. Whatever your reasons for disinheriting an heir, doing so can sometimes prove to be a challenging legal process. For help understanding Illinois inheritance laws, drafting a last will and testament, or developing other estate plans, contact an experienced estate planning lawyer.

Disinheriting a Spouse

Through an estate plan, an individual can leave his or her property to anyone or any organization he or she chooses. However, Illinois law does not typically permit a person to disinherit his or her spouse through a will without the spouse’s consent. If a last will and testament does disinherit a spouse, the surviving spouse may be able to “renounce” the will formally. Presuming the renunciation is successful, he or she would then be entitled to a portion of the deceased spouse’s estate. If the deceased person has children, the surviving spouse may be entitled to one-third of the estate. If there are not any surviving children, the spouse may be entitled to one-half of the estate.

It is important to note, however, that an individual’s right to renounce his or her spouse’s will does not extend to living trusts or certain other estate planning documents. It should also be noted that if there is a situation in which the terms of a will conflict with the terms of a prenuptial agreement, the prenuptial agreement takes precedence.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyGetting a divorce can sometimes make it feel as if your world has been turned upside down. Between dealing with the financial consequences of your divorce and managing child custody or spousal support concerns, you may feel like there are almost countless tasks to complete.  In all of the chaos, it can be easy to forget important estate planning considerations. Unfortunately, if a person divorces, beneficiary designations and certain other estate planning arrangements do not change automatically. You will need to update such provisions manually, and a qualified estate planning attorney can help.  

Review and Revise Your Will

Only about 40 percent of U.S. adults have a will or other estate plan in place. If you already have a will or trust that describes your property distribution wishes, you are already ahead of most Americans. However, you will want to read and update your will after divorce. According to Illinois law, any directions in your will that refer to your spouse are made void once he or she becomes your ex-spouse. However, any provisions that address inheritance for your ex-spouse’s family members remain valid. It is always a good idea to go over your will after divorce and make sure it still reflects your current wishes.

Change Your Beneficiaries on Your Retirement Accounts

If you have an IRA, 401K, or other retirement plan, you will probably need to update the beneficiaries listed in your policy. As a part of your divorce settlement, you may be required to share retirement funds with your ex-spouse. However, any remaining retirement funds should rightfully be yours. If your spouse is currently listed as the beneficiary on your retirement account, you need to change this sooner rather than later. Some divorced individuals still want their spouse listed as a trustee for their children. If this is your situation, read through your retirement policy and other estate planning documents any make any necessary changes so that they documents reflect your wishes

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Wheaton family law attorney

Going through a divorce can significantly disrupt your life. Not only does it affect your mental and emotional health, but it can also wreak havoc on your financial situation. It may be hard to maintain the same standard of living once you and your spouse part ways. However, you can still obtain a sense of financial security. In some cases, you may be awarded spousal support or child support payments, or you may be required to pay support to your former spouse. To alleviate some of the stress, it is important to be hands-on and in control of your assets, income, debts, and expenses. A skilled family law attorney can guide you through the legal proceedings and help ensure that you are positioned for success once your divorce is complete. 

Here are a few steps to regain financial stability after a divorce:

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Lombard estate planning attorneyIt is estimated that approximately 1,300 new stepfamilies are created every day in the United States. While proper estate planning is important for everyone, individuals who have a blended family should take special care to ensure that their estate plans reflect their wishes and provide for beneficiaries.  Whether your family includes stepparents and stepchildren, adopted children, half-siblings, or grandchildren, having a comprehensive estate plan is essential. If you are in a blended family, there are special estate planning considerations that may apply to your situation that you may be unaware of.  

Complications Regarding Remarriages and Children from a Previous Marriage

A large percentage of U.S. adults are on their second or third marriages. If you have remarried and you have children from a previous relationship, you should be aware of the way Illinois intestate succession laws operate. If a person dies without a valid will or other estate planning document, his or her assets are distributed according to state law. In Illinois, the laws of intestate succession would split your estate between your current spouse and your children. Such laws, however, do not specify which of your assets will go to your children. This means that if you want your children from a previous relationship to inherit certain items—including family heirlooms or other things with sentimental value, you will need to create a will or trust to do so.

One major mistake many people make when they get remarried is forgetting to change the primary beneficiary from their previous spouse to their current spouse. If you have remarried but your have children from a past relationship, you may want to consider naming your new spouse and your biological children as primary beneficiaries. This would allow each of these individuals to receive a portion of your estate when you pass away. Another option is to create a revocable trust that assigns assets to your spouse during his or her lifetime but then passes the remaining trust balance to your children upon your spouse’s death.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersIf you are like many pet owners, your pets are not simply animals, they are loyal companions. Because you love your pet and want to ensure he or she will be cared for if you pass away, you may be interested in including your pet in your estate plans. A pet is not a human so you cannot leave an inheritance directly to a pet. However, there are certain estate planning tools that allow you to designate funds and property for the care of your pet.

Planning for Pets After Your Death

If you are considering providing for your pet in your estate plan, you have already considered the fact that your pet may outlive you. Many people assume that when they pass away that family members or friends will care for their pet, but this is not always what ends up happening. Sometimes the person you hoped would look after your companion simply cannot fulfil the responsibility. He or she may have health issues or allergies that prevent him or her from owning pets, live in a residence that does not allow pets, or he or she may be unable to afford your pet’s care. One option that allows you to ensure that your pet receives the care he or she needs is a pet trust.

Consider a Pet Trust

The Illinois Trusts and Trustees Act allows people to create trusts for the purpose of providing for their pet after they are gone. If you have a pet who needs expensive medical care or has other needs, you may worry about who will provide for these needs after you have passed away. One option is to place funds in a trust that may only be used for the pet’s medical care, food, shelter, exercise, and other needs. You will then designate someone who you trust to carry out these responsibilities. This person is called the trustee. When you pass away, the trustee gains access to the funds in the trust. Once the pet has passed away, the remaining funds will be distributed according to the directions you have described in the trust document.

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DuPage County family law attorney parental rights

Although Illinois family law prefers a child to have two parents actively involved in his or her life, there are times when it is in the best interests of the child to terminate one of the parent’s parental rights. Once an individual’s parental rights have been terminated, he or she is no longer responsible for the child, meaning he or she does not have to pay monthly child support payments and cannot make decisions on the child’s behalf. Illinois has strict and specific rules regarding the termination of parental rights, so it is important to understand them if you are ever involved in a legal dispute regarding your or your former partner's rights regarding your child. 

The Illinois Adoption Act and Parental Rights

Typically, a parent is not allowed to give up his or her rights in order to avoid parental responsibilities or paying child support. In addition, one parent is not allowed to petition to revoke the other parent’s rights as part of a child custody dispute. Typically, parental rights will typically only be terminated if the child is being adopted by a step-parent or another party. Under the Illinois Adoption Act, parental rights can be only involuntarily terminated if:

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DuPage County estate planning attorneyOnly about four out of ten adults have any type of estate plan in place. Misunderstandings about the purpose of estate planning and fears about confronting one’s own mortality are two of the main reasons that people neglect this important responsibility. People also put off estate planning because they are overwhelmed and do not know where to begin.

If you are ready to get started on your estate plans, consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer. A lawyer will help you determine what types of estate planning tools will best accomplish your goals. He or she can also ensure that your estate plans do not contain mistakes that could invalidate the decisions you have made.

Planning for Future Disability or Incapacitation

Of the people who do create estate plans, many draft a will and little else. A will is a crucial estate planning tool that allows you to direct how your assets are passed down to heirs upon your death, but it is not the only estate planning tool worth utilizing. You must also consider what will happen if you become seriously ill or injured and are unable to speak for yourself. A medical power of attorney allows you to choose a representative to speak on your behalf about medical decisions if you are incapacitated and cannot express these medical wishes. A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint a representative to manage your finances if you cannot do so yourself. A living will allows you to choose in advance what types of end-of-life care you would and would not want if you could not express it. You can choose whether or not doctors should use mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, CPR, and other medical procedures to delay your death.

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Wheaton spousal support attorney

Since November 2013, same-sex couples have had equal access to marriage and divorce rights under federal law. In Illinois, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) marriage is similar to opposite-sex marriage. Not only do same-sex couples have the right to get married, but they can also share property and assets, file joint tax returns, receive retirement and veterans’ benefits, and many other rights and responsibilities that opposite-sex couples receive following marriage. Since same-sex marriage is still relatively new, couples may not fully understand how the law applies to them when it comes to divorce. Therefore, if you are considering a divorce, it is critical that an experienced attorney guides you through the process. 

Illinois Divorce Laws

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you do not need to give the court a reason why you and your spouse wish to end your marriage. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, in order to be granted a divorce, a couple must only prove:

  1. Irreconcilable differences have initiated the failure of the marriage.

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