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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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Lombard estate planning attorneysDeciding how your property should be distributed upon your death is not the most pleasant topic to consider. However, proper estate planning is a crucial step that every individual should take regardless of age or wealth. If you have decided to create a last will and testament, you may be concerned about your will being challenged or contested. When a person contests a will, they challenge the validity of the will in court. If the will contest is successful, the directions contained in the will may be set aside and instead the deceased person’s property is distributed according to intestate laws. There is no way to guarantee that your estate plans will not be contested, but there are actions you can take that will significantly reduce the chances of a will contest.

Do Not Put Off Estate Planning Until Old Age or Poor Health

Many people are under the false assumption that they do not need to worry about their will or other estate planning tool until they are much older or have a major health concern. However, waiting too long to start estate planning could result in your will being contested due to lack of testamentary capacity. The best way to avoid this is to create your will before you have any type of major mental or physical health issues. Once you have drafted your will, talk to your family about what to expect when you pass away. When beneficiaries know the contents of your will in advance, they may be less likely to contest the will out of shock.

Consider a No-Contest Clause

Although you cannot stop a beneficiary from contesting your will, you can include a clause that makes contesting the will a much less attractive option. A no-contest provision is a clause that places certain penalties on anyone who contests the will. For example, you may include a clause that states that if a beneficiary contests the validity of the will and loses, that he or she loses part or all of his or her inheritance. If the will contest is successful, however, the no-contest clause may be nullified and your assets are distributed according to state law.

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Lombard, IL child support attorney

Child support refers to the money paid by one parent to the other parent to help financially support their child after the parents get a divorce. However, these types of payments may also be appropriate for couples who never married but had a child together. Typically, child support is paid to the parent who was allocated the majority of the parenting time with the couple's child. In Illinois, child support is based on both parents' net incomes, and an “income shares model” is used to calculate the amount of the payments. Child support arrangements must be approved by the court. Payments are typically made on a monthly basis, and a parent can face penalties if the support payments are late or if support is unpaid.

Child Support Uses

Overall, child support is intended to maintain the child’s well-being and guarantee all of his or her basic needs are met. The basic child support obligation determined using the income shares method is meant to cover the following types of expenses:

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Wheaton divorce attorney parenting time

If you are a parent who is divorced or legally separated, you are likely familiar with the court-approved parental responsibilities you and your ex may have spent hours trying to resolve. A parenting plan is a legal document that outlines child-related issues such as with whom your child will live, who has decision-making authority regarding issues such as children's education and medical care, and more. Unfortunately, your child may not be too happy about the decisions made during your divorce, and they may state that they do not wish to spend parenting time (visitation) with your ex-spouse. However, even if your child is reluctant to spend time with his or her other parent, you will be required to follow the parenting time schedule set down in the parenting plan, and you may face penalties for failing to fulfill the court's orders.

The Reasons Behind the Refusal

Understanding why your child does not want to visit the other parent is the first step in addressing the issue. During this time, it is important to keep these tips in mind:

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Lombard estate planning attorneysProcessing a loved one’s death is hard enough on its own. There is no measure for the hurt and overwhelming range of emotions that comes with saying goodbye to someone near and dear to your heart and family. When it comes time to handling wills and other estate documents following the death, the very last thing anyone wants to deal with is an estate dispute.

Whether you discover an inaccuracy or you are simply having a hard time believing the information found in the document to be fair, examining a loved one’s wishes and estate arrangements after they are gone can be overwhelming, to say the least. Deciding to mount a legal challenge can be even more difficult.

Factors to Consider

If you or member of your family have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to dispute a certain estate document, you will need to think about:

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Wheaton family law attorney stepchild

The United States is a nation in which a majority of families are divorced. However, many people find love again and choose to remarry. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 1,300 new stepfamilies are formed every day. Becoming a stepparent can be stressful and intimidating. However, with realistic expectations and a certain approach to building a relationship, a sustaining bond can be created. In some cases, a stepparent may even wish to legally adopt his or her stepchild. It is important to have an experienced family law attorney assist you throughout the legal process.

Blended Families 

A remarriage often involves more than just a couple. One or both parents may have children from their previous marriages or relationships. If you are getting remarried after a divorce, and you will have a stepchild, keep these tips in mind for a smoother transition for everyone involved:

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Lombard power of attorney lawyerCoronavirus concerns has many people putting estate plans at a much higher priority than normally. Although the chances of becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus are low for most Americans, it may still be a good idea to start implementing an estate plan. One important aspect of a comprehensive estate plan is a medical power of attorney or power of attorney for healthcare. By appointing a medical power of attorney for healthcare, you ensure that your medical decisions will be made by someone you trust if you cannot make these decisions on your own.  

Power of Attorney for Healthcare Basics

Many people assume that estate planning is only necessary if they are sick or elderly, however, it is best to create an estate plan while you are healthy and able to make clear decisions. An unexpected accident or illness can happen to anyone at any time. If you were seriously hurt or sick and could not tell doctors what your medical wishes were, you would probably want a trusted loved one who knows your preferences to make these decisions on your behalf. A healthcare power of attorney allows you to choose an agent who will be responsible for making your healthcare decisions if you cannot do so yourself. The term “power of attorney for healthcare” is often used to refer to the legal document as well as the person acting as your agent.

Who Should Be My Agent?

Being someone’s healthcare power of attorney is a serious responsibility. It is important to choose an agent who is capable of adequately handling this responsibility. Your agent should also be someone you trust implicitly and are comfortable sharing personal information with. Many people choose a spouse, family member, or close friend to be their agent. If you choose an agent and then circumstances change and you no longer want this person to be your agent, you have the ability to choose a new agent by drafting a new healthcare power of attorney document. You may want your healthcare power of attorney to also be your financial power of attorney or you may want to assign these roles to two different individuals.

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DuPage County child custody attorney

The coronavirus pandemic is not just impacting grocery stores and group gatherings. It may also be affecting parental responsibilities (child custody) among divorced parents. On March 16, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker declared a state-of-emergency decree in response to COVID-19. As a result of the declaration, all schools in Illinois are closed until further notice, leaving parents unsure of what they need to do to provide care for their children. Most divorce orders outline when children will stay with each parent if schools are not in session. However, those orders are based on pre-arranged off-days and holiday schedules, not unplanned notices based on a national health crisis. To ensure that your parental rights are protected while addressing your children's health and safety, you should consult with a family law attorney to determine how to proceed.

Top Priorities Amidst the Crisis

Although it is easy to panic at a time like this, parents will want to do their best to protect their children's best interests. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

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Lombard estate planning attorneyOne of the most important decisions in the estate planning process is selecting who will be named as executor of the estate. The executor is the person who is responsible for overseeing and protecting the assets of the deceased person. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the wishes of the decedent are carried out, as well as maintaining any property of the estate until disbursement, paying the debts of the estate, and any taxes owed. It is critical for the person who is appointed executor to understand how to manage the estate. If they mismanage estate assets that add up to a loss to the beneficiaries of the estate, they can be held liable for those losses.

Important Duties

Unless arrangements have been made before the person’s death, it is typically the executor’s responsibility to handle the financial arrangements for the deceased’s funeral and burial expenses. The funeral parlor also provides copies of the death certificate to the executor. It is important to obtain several copies of the death certificate since a copy will be necessary in order to access financial accounts and canceling government benefit checks (i.e. Social Security). A copy is also required to be filed with the final federal tax return of the estate.

Probate Concerns

It is also the executor’s responsibility to file the deceased person’s will for probate. There can be no division of the estate until a probate judge gives his or her approval. An exception to this rule exists if all the decedent’s assets had been transferred to a living trust before the person died. Those assets can be disbursed to the designated beneficiaries without having to go through the probate process.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer name change

Getting a divorce can be a very complicated process. It may be difficult to think about the decision to keep your married name or revert back to your maiden name when there are so many other pressing issues that need to be resolved. Because of this, many women choose to continue using their married names for the time being. However, if they choose to go back to using their maiden names, a skilled family law attorney can help you complete the legal steps to do so. 

Reasons for Changing Your Name

Changing your last name after your divorce is one of the first steps in getting your original identity back. Whether this decision is emotionally difficult or easy, consider these factors when deciding:

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Lombard estate planning attorneyThe World Health Organization estimates that about 50 million people throughout the world currently suffer from dementia. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about 60-70 percent of all dementia cases. Watching a loved one with dementia suffer from memory loss and cognitive impairment can be heartbreaking, especially if that loved one is your spouse. If your husband or wife has dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or another health issue that affects cognitive function, you may worry about his or her ability to make important decisions. One way you may obtain the ability to make decisions on behalf of your spouse is through legal guardianship.  

Types of Guardianships in Illinois

When a person cannot communicate his or her needs or make rational decisions, a loved one may choose to establish guardianship so that he or she can make decisions on the person’s behalf. The Illinois Probate Act describes several types of guardianship including limited guardianship, plenary guardianship, guardianship of a person, guardianship of the estate, and more. If your spouse has dementia but is still able to make some decisions on his or her own, a limited guardianship may be appropriate. If you become a “limited guardian,” you will be permitted to make any decisions about your spouse’s finances, medical treatment, and personal care that he or she cannot make on his or her own, but the scope of those decisions will generally be limited by the court that grants the guardianship.

If your spouse has significant impairment, a plenary guardianship will allow you to make all of the decisions about his or her finances and care. Guardianship of the estate is used to ensure that a disabled person’s financial affairs are properly managed. If you are unsure as to what guardianship is appropriate for your particular situation, speak with an estate planning attorney to receive personalized guidance.

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting time

It is only human nature for children to want their parents to remain married “till death do us part.” However, in some cases, that may not be possible. Regardless of whether infidelity played a role or a couple simply grew apart, it may be in everyone’s best interest to part ways. According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 40–50 percent of married couples in the United States get divorced. Telling your children about your divorce may be one of the toughest conversations you will ever have. Despite the difficulty and intense emotions that may arise, keeping your child in the know is crucial to a smooth transition.

Discussing Your Divorce with Your Children

Whether you think the divorce will come as a shock to them or not, keep these tips in mind when breaking the news to your kids: 

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Lombard family law attorneyAlso referred to in the state of Illinois as a POLST—practitioner orders for life-sustaining treatment—a do-not-resuscitate order can give you and your loved ones great peace of mind knowing your health wishes are officially documented should you be unable to make decisions about your own health matters. In the event of severe injury or illness, a DNR becomes a valuable advance directive document, so you may decide to include one when making your other estate planning arrangements.

How a DNR Is Different

Generally, federal law requires that every person admitted to a health care facility is informed of their to right to make an advance directive. The Patient Self-Determination Act requires not all, but many, providers to present information on advance directives to patients under their care. Unlike other advance directives, such as a power of attorney or living will, a do-not-resuscitate order exists to specifically address the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should your heart or breathing stop. Additionally, its purpose is to express your desires regarding any life-sustaining treatment.

While these wishes can be expressed in a living will, a DNR is an order that must be signed by both you and your practitioner. Its primary purpose is to decline resuscitation. A living will is a personal legal document used to convey this preference, as well as other healthcare wishes, such as your desire to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. A living will is more involved and can be as detailed as you would like it to be. Similarly, a health care power of attorney is used to appoint an “agent” to make healthcare decisions for you on your behalf, and its use is very broad and flexible in terms of expressing your healthcare wishes.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyChoosing a beneficiary for your will, trust, or life insurance policy might at first seem like a relatively simple task. For some, a specific person automatically comes to mind--someone they know, care for, and trust--and the decision is made. For others, though, the task can feel tedious. Depending on your financial circumstances, designating someone as beneficiary can place a significant amount of responsibility on the inheritor.

A Multi-Faceted Inheritance

Notice the word inheritor. Typically, the beneficiary of a will, trust, or life insurance policy is set to inherit something to their advantage. They receive benefits, profits, or funds from a particular account or policy, designated to them by whatever estate planning tool you choose to utilize. While this can certainly be a positive turn of events for the inheritor in the midst of your passing, it can still mean a lot of responsibility, as receiving funds can also mean receiving a burdensome responsibility.

Sadly, tense arguments and disagreements can arise between families and loved ones when a certain friend or family member inherits money. Decisions must be made by the recipient regarding any property, possessions, or monetary funds inherited, which can be emotionally and mentally taxing for anyone involved. While you cannot predict or control how everyone will interpret and respond to your choice of inheritor, you do have a say in who you would like to assign these responsibilities to, should you document your wishes well in advance.

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