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chicago estate planning lawyerWhile estate planning is important for everyone, it is especially so for high-net-worth individuals. If you own high-value or complex assets, a number of estate planning tools are available to ensure that your wealth is distributed according to your wishes while minimizing your Illinois Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax liability. The greater the value of your estate, the greater the potential liabilities. An experienced attorney can craft an estate plan designed to preserve your wealth. 

Minimizing Taxes During Estate Distribution

Generally, trusts are favored over wills. Trusts serve one very important purpose-- avoiding probate. Probate can be costly and complicated, and it significantly diminishes your estate’s value. There are two types of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. Often, both are used to hold different assets and to serve different purposes. 

A revocable trust allows you to continue making modifications to it throughout your life. You can move assets in and out of a revocable trust. Any wealth contained in a revocable trust will not be subject to probate. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_149602157.jpgGetting used to parenting with your kids in two separate households is a difficult but necessary task for many families adjusting to life after divorce. The start of a new school year puts additional responsibilities on parents as they try to arrange schedules, buy supplies, and manage expenses.

Thinking ahead is crucial for creating an adequate parenting plan. Having a plan in place can help a family transition into the academic year much more smoothly. Whether you have been divorced for years or are still going through a divorce, here are some things to consider addressing in your parenting plan as your children start school. 

Share Unexpected Expenses 

Child support is generally expected to cover a child’s cost of living at one home, but school can add extra unanticipated expenses. Extracurricular activities, books, and fees for tests and college-level courses can add up quickly. 

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lombard power of attorney lawyerA power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person, called the “agent,” the power to make decisions on your behalf. Powers of attorney can be as limited in scope as allowing your agent to handle one specific transaction for you, or as broad as giving your agent general and permanent power to manage all of your finances and medical decision-making. It is very important to consult with a qualified attorney before you execute any power of attorney. These legal documents can be quite complicated, and an experienced attorney will be able to guide you through the process and ensure that your wishes will be carried out correctly. 

What is the Difference Between Durable and Springing Powers of Attorney? 

The main difference between a durable power of attorney and a springing power of attorney is that a durable power of attorney takes effect immediately and gives your agent the ability to start making decisions for you, managing your finances, or any other included powers right away. It is effective for the rest of your life unless you revoke it. A durable power of attorney is not affected if you become incapacitated. One advantage of a durable power of attorney is that since it is already in effect, the transition after you become incapacitated can be seamless. 

A springing power of attorney does not give your agent any powers unless you become incapacitated. In Illinois, you are considered incapacitated when two doctors agree that you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. 

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lombard divorce lawyerIf you have decided to get a divorce, the next step is to choose an Illinois divorce attorney. But what makes a good attorney? Out of the myriad of options, how do you know what to look for, or even where to look?

Choosing a divorce attorney is an important part of the divorce process. The right attorney can make the divorce process smoother, less stressful, and will avoid unnecessary delays and mistakes that can cost you valuable time and money. This article discusses the process of choosing a divorce attorney, as well as some of the things you should look for. 

Where Should I Search for a Divorce Attorney? 

First, begin by speaking with trusted friends and family. If you know anyone who has recently been through a divorce, ask them how they felt about their attorney. You may be surprised to find that some people will even recommend their ex-spouse’s attorney rather than their own, simply because the attorney did such a great job of advocating for their client. 

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lombard estate planning lawyerOne of the most important parts of creating a successful estate plan is deciding who will be responsible for carrying out the wishes of your will. This person is known as an “executor.” Even if you think your estate is small, choosing a trustworthy executor is important for ensuring your last wishes are in good hands. 

What Does an Executor Do? 

Even for a smaller estate, an executor has many responsibilities. It takes about a year to completely settle an average estate, and sometimes it can take much longer. Your executor will file your will with a court to pay off any debt you may have, close all your accounts, hire any necessary experts, and ensure your assets are distributed appropriately. 

What Makes Someone a Good Executor?

Because an executor is entrusted with sensitive personal and financial information, not just anyone should be named as an executor. Ideally, an executor should be:

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lombard estate planning lawyerThere are several options for people in Illinois who want to ensure their assets are protected and their wishes are fulfilled after their death. Among these is something called a “living trust,” and it is one of the most valuable asset protection instruments someone can have. Living trusts are versatile estate planning tools that offer flexibility when transferring assets to loved ones. Better yet, they save your estate from having to go through a time-consuming and expensive probate process

What is the Purpose of a Living Trust? 

A trust is a legal arrangement in which one person - the trustee - holds assets on behalf of another person, known as the beneficiary. A living trust has the advantage of remaining under the control of the trustee for as long as they live, giving the trustee great flexibility over how the assets in the trust are handled. A trustee of a living trust can sell, mortgage, or give away assets held in the trust at any time. Once the trustee passes away, a successor trustee appointed by the original trustee distributes the assets to the trust’s beneficiaries. 

The primary benefit of a living trust is that the grantor - the person who gives the assets to the trust - can also be the trustee. A grantor who sets up a living trust and serves as its trustee retains control over the ability to modify the terms of the trust and control the use of their property however they see fit.

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lombard child custody lawyerIn 2016, a new law came into effect changing the way that Illinois’ courts handle child custody issues during and after divorce. Rather than calling a parent’s time and decision-making authority “custody,” the new law divides the parental relationship with a child into “parenting time” and “allocation of parental responsibilities.” 

Parents going through a divorce may find these phrases confusing, especially since parenting time and parental responsibilities are often still colloquially lumped into the word “custody.” However, there are important differences. This blog post will define and discuss these terms. 

Why Did Illinois Stop Using the Term “Custody”? 

Finding the old terms “custody” and “visitation” to be too vague and old-fashioned, Illinois law replaced them with phrases that are more specific and reflect modern reality. “Custody” and “joint custody” are no longer legally recognized at all, and “visitation” is only used in the context of third parties, such as grandparents’ visitation rights. Although the words “custody” and “visitation” are no longer meaningful in the legal sense, the concepts they described are still very much relevant.

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IL divorce lawyerTechnology has enabled us to do amazing things. We can now talk face-to-face with each other, anywhere in the world, at any time. Medical advances are moving forward in leaps and bounds, and if Jeff Bezos can go into space in his own brand new spacecraft, surely you can get divorced online, right?

Are There Any Advantages to Online Divorce?

“Do-it-yourself” divorce, or online divorce, can seem like a good option for a number of reasons. They advertise low costs, and they seem faster and less complicated than a normal divorce – no trial lawyers, no discovery, no fighting. If you do not have children or own property together, DIY online divorce can seem like a great alternative to the traditional courtroom divorce process. Just fill out the online forms, print them out, and send them to the family court in the county you live in. But is it really that simple?

What Are the Disadvantages of Online Divorce?

Unfortunately, the appeal of online divorce quickly fades as the real complications of divorce come to light. Using an online service to end your marriage opens the possibilities to mistakes and errors. Legal paperwork is technical and must be done correctly; even if a mistake was completely unintentional, if the paperwork is not done right, it cannot be filed.

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IL estate lawyerThe circumstances necessitating estate planning can be unpleasant to think about and people often avoid putting off writing their will. However, writing your will and establishing your priorities after your death is one of the best ways you can show love to the people you care about most. You may think you are too young to write a will, but the truth is that the sooner you write a will, the safer your loved ones will be.

If you have never written a will before, you may wonder what you should include. In this post, we will discuss some of the things you should consider when you are writing your will.

What Is a Will?

If you are writing your first will, you may be unsure about what a will is or what it does. Essentially, a will is a binding legal document that details what will happen to your property after you die. If relevant, a will can also address who will be appointed as a guardian for your minor children. A will also appoints someone who ensures the will is implemented correctly. This person is called an executor.

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Posted on in Adoption

IL adoption lawyerBlended families present unique challenges, and when it works well it can be a wonderful experience for everyone. Many new stepfamilies are created every day in Illinois, and many of those families create bonds that last forever. Stepparents who feel close to their stepchild and want to take on permanent parental responsibilities may consider adopting them.

In Illinois, stepparents can adopt their stepchildren, but it is not an easy process. Each situation is different, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you consider adoption:

There Can Only Be Two Parents

A child in Illinois can only have two legal parents. This means that, in order to adopt your stepchild, the child’s other parent must have their parental rights revoked or relinquished. That parent can relinquish their parental rights voluntarily by consenting to the adoption. If the parental rights are revoked as a consequence of neglect or abuse, this must be done in a court case wherein a judge will examine the relevant factors to determine whether the parent is unfit.

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IL estate planning lawyerWhen someone is planning their estate in Illinois, several factors must be present in order for a will to be considered valid in a probate court. One important factor is the testamentary capacity of the person executing the will (also known as the “testator”).

Illinois law presumes a person who is writing a will possesses testamentary capacity. This means that if someone wants to prove a will is invalid due to lack of testamentary capacity, they have to proactively demonstrate that the testator was not capable of understanding or writing the will during the time in which the will was written.

Here, we’ll look at the definition of testamentary capacity, and several factors that may contribute towards a lack of testamentary capacity.

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IL family lawyerIf you are getting a divorce and have never been married – but have lived with your partner for many years, and may even have children together – you may have heard about “common law” marriages and wonder whether they exist in Illinois. The short answer is: No, Illinois does not allow common law marriages to take place in the state. However, Illinois does recognize common law marriage from other states. In this article, we will discuss what common law marriage is, and how common law marriages from other states are handled in an Illinois divorce.

What Is Common Law Marriage?

In states where common law marriages are legal, the state will generally treat a couple’s relationship as if it were a marriage if that is what the couple has done themselves. Couples must meet the state’s laws governing marriage, such as minimum age restrictions, and cannot be married to anyone else.

Couples must also present their relationship to the public as a married relationship. They can do this by wearing wedding rings, sharing bank accounts, and referring to each other as husband and wife.

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IL probate lawyerIn our last post, we introduced and discussed the concept of undue influence in creating a will. It can be difficult to prove undue influence – even the Supreme Court of the United States has said that what constitutes undue influence depends on the individual circumstances of each case.

When someone believes their loved one may have been under undue influence when creating a will, one way to show the will is invalid is to prove that there was a formal legal relationship between the testator and the other party, called a fiduciary duty.

This can be a little confusing, so we will explore further.

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IUL divorce lawyerMaking the decision to get a divorce is difficult and complex and should never be made lightly. In addition to the impact on any children, you will need to consider the impact of a divorce on your property and finances. Divorce is never easy, but in order to make it smooth as possible, you should also ensure that your personal interests are understood, respected, and represented. Making the wrong choice of a divorce attorney can be costly in terms of time and money.

As you begin the process of choosing a divorce attorney, here are a few tips to help you find exactly the representation you want and need:

  • Do plenty of research – There is more than one way to end your marriage, and the kind of divorce attorney you hire may change depending on the method you choose. If you want a cooperative, mediation-driven divorce, attorneys who focus on courtroom battles may not be the right choice. An attorney should not pressure you to do something you are not comfortable with. The attorneys at A. Traub & Associates have experience with different types of divorce in Illinois and will work with you to choose the path that is right for you.
  • Take your time – You may be eager to end your marriage and get on with your life, but rushing through the important decisions can be costly in terms of time and money. Interview several law firms and get a sense of what different firms have to offer. Make sure you really know your options before you make a decision.
  • Figure out what you want, and do not settle for less – If you are looking for an attorney who is going to keep you informed throughout the process, say so. If you want someone who will take charge and let you be more hands-off, express that preference and make sure the firms you are considering are okay with that. If your children’s schedule means that you need someone whose office is close to where you live, keep that in mind.
  • Focus and prioritize – In divorce, there is no “winner.” Nobody gets exactly everything they want. Choose an attorney who will help you figure out your priorities, and then will help you let go of the unimportant things.

Consult with a Skilled Lombard, Illinois Divorce Attorney

Choosing the right divorce attorney can feel overwhelming, but it does not have to be. The experienced professionals at A. Traub & Associates can help guide you through the beginning stages of divorce and ensure you get what you need. Contact our DuPage County divorce attorneys at 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation today.

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IL probate lawyerUndue influence is the most common justification in Illinois when someone wants to contest the validity of a will. But what is undue influence? And if you suspect someone is trying to wield undue influence over your loved one during the creation of their will, what can you do about it? We will explore the concept of undue influence in a short series of blog posts, explaining what undue influence is and how it is treated under Illinois law.

Undue influence is when the person for whom the will is written (the testator) has their wishes wrongfully manipulated and overpowered by someone else. This obscures the true wishes of the testator and can cause tension and conflict in executing the will after the testator is deceased.

Family members who are concerned their loved one is being subject to undue influence may have worries triggered by unusual behavior, such as sudden estrangement or confusion on the part of the testator. They may witness a decline in the mental capacity of the testator, or notice they are accompanied by a companion who seems overly zealous in “helping” the testator or seems to be influencing their decision making.

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IL estate lawyerFor people of any age, estate planning allows them to make decisions about what will happen in the future. In many cases, the focus of an estate plan will be on what happens after a person’s death, and this will be covered in part by their last will and testament, which is commonly referred to as a will. However, multiple types of estate planning documents, including a living will, can also be used to address how issues such as medical care will be handled throughout the remainder of a person’s life. By understanding the differences between wills and living wills, a person and their loved ones can ensure that their wishes will be followed correctly.

Wills vs. Living Wills

A last will and testament is used to make decisions about how a person’s final affairs will be handled after their death, including who will inherit their property and assets. It will name a person known as an executor who will complete the probate process and ensure that the deceased person’s instructions will be followed when distributing their assets to their family members or other beneficiaries. A will can also be used to nominate a person as the guardian of the deceased person’s minor children, and it can specify the deceased person’s wishes for their funeral and burial or cremation.

The term “living will” would seem to indicate that it is a document that covers similar issues as a last will and testament prior to a person’s death. However, a living will can only address certain types of specific issues, and it will only apply in certain situations. Basically, a living will can make decisions about the medical care a person receives prior to their death, ensuring that their wishes will be followed if they cannot make these wishes known. To make decisions about medical treatment in other situations, other estate planning tools such as powers of attorney may be used.

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are getting divorced, you may have questions about alimony. In Illinois, alimony is called spousal maintenance or support. Alimony is financial assistance that a spouse pays to the other spouse after a divorce. In some cases, spouses agree on the amount and duration of alimony before they get divorced through a prenuptial agreement or separation agreement. In other cases, spouses negotiate a spousal maintenance agreement during the divorce process. When the couple cannot agree, the court will determine spousal maintenance issues on the spouses’ behalf.

Who Gets Spousal Support?

Spousal maintenance is typically used to reduce the financial burden created by a divorce. Both men and women may qualify for spousal maintenance. If the couple is not able to agree upon a spousal maintenance arrangement outside of court, the court will evaluate the spouses’ financial and life circumstances and determine if spousal maintenance is appropriate. Illinois courts consider the following factors when deciding whether to award a spouse alimony:

  • Any agreement the parties have reached regarding maintenance
  • Each party’s income and property
  • Each party’s financial needs
  • Whether time spent as a homemaker or stay-at-home parent reduced the income or employability of the spouse who is seeking maintenance
  • Each party’s present and future earning capacity
  • How long it would take the spouse who is seeking maintenance to be financially independent
  • How long the marriage lasted and what the standard of living was during the marriage
  • Tax implications

How Much Alimony Can You Get in Illinois?

If the court determines a spousal maintenance award, the amount of maintenance a spouse receives is based on a statutory formula. First, each spouse’s net income is determined. Next, 25 percent of the recipient spouse’s net income is subtracted from 33 percent of the payor spouse’s net income to calculate annual maintenance to be paid to the recipient spouse. Spousal maintenance is capped at 40 percent of the spouses’ combined net income.

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IL estate lawyerAlthough pop star Britney Spears was a household name in the 90s and early 2000s, the singer faded into the background in later years. However, a new legal battle has returned Spears’ name to news headlines. Concerns over a court-appointed conservatorship have led many to question exactly when an adult should be subject to guardianship. Some believe that Spears’ father’s control over her finances is a despicable abuse of power. Others see it as a necessary means of assisting a woman with a history of mental instability and substance abuse issues.

Understanding the Purpose of Guardianships and Conservatorships

Estate planning terms vary from state to state. In Illinois, the term “conservatorship” is often used synonymously with guardianship of a person’s estate. A conservator or “guardian of the estate” is in charge of managing the finances of another individual. A “guardian of the person” manages the non-financial concerns in the person’s life, such as housing and medical decisions. Both conservatorships and guardianships give authority of a person’s life to another party. Conservatorships and guardianships are typically used to protect the interests of minor children or those with dementia or other conditions that reduce the individual’s ability to make sound decisions.

Why Was Britney Spears Subject to a Conservatorship?

For over 13 years, Britney Spears has been subject to a court-appointed conservatorship which gives control of her affairs to her father Jamie Spears. The conservatorship was established in 2008 amid concerns over the singer’s mental health problems and drug and alcohol use. Spears has attended several rehabilitation facilities for substance abuse and has also been placed in the hospital under psychiatric holds on two occasions. However, many proponents of the #FreeBritney movement say that conservatorship is no longer necessary. Spears has requested that her father be removed as conservator and for a financial institution to take control of her estate. In February of this year, a judge denied this request and ruled that both Jamie Spears and the financial institution would oversee Britney’s financial affairs. Britney will attend a hearing on June 23 to address the ongoing legal battle.

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IL family lawyerDomestic violence and abuse affect the lives of millions of individuals each year in the U.S. It is estimated that 125,000 children a year are neglected or abused in Illinois. While these statistics are shocking and child abuse is a very real concern in Illinois, not every accusation of abuse is founded on truth. Misunderstandings, discipline, or exaggerated stories may lead to accusations of abuse. Some individuals even fabricate stories of abuse to gain an advantage in child custody proceedings. If you were accused of child abuse, it is important to know your rights as well as what to expect.

Department of Children and Family Services Investigations

If you are accused of abusing your child, you may be contacted by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Keep in mind, this organization must take every allegation of abuse seriously. This often means launching a formal investigation into the circumstances of any alleged abuse. A DCFS investigator may visit your home, interview you and other household members, and ask your child questions about the alleged abuse. The investigator may also speak with your child’s teachers, doctors, or other important figures in the child’s life. The DCFS has 60 days to complete the investigation. If the DCFS believes that the child is in immediate danger, the organization does have the authority to remove the child from the home and place him or her into protective custody.

How to Assert Your Rights After Being Falsely Accused of Hurting Your Child

If you have been accused of intentionally harming your own child, you may understandably be offended and angered by this horrible accusation. However, it is important to cooperate with the DCFS investigation. Remain calm and respectful. Answer the investigator’s questions honestly but keep in mind that anything you do or say can be used against you. Most importantly, work with a skilled family law attorney. Your lawyer can help you prepare for the investigation and take the steps that will give you a better chance at a favorable outcome.

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IL family lawyerWhether it was several months or years ago that your current order on parenting time was entered by a family law court, you probably recall some of the general legal concepts. Illinois’ statute on allocation of parental responsibilities covers both decision-making on important issues involved with raising the child AND the parenting schedule. The former terms of custody and visitation may no longer be used, but the underlying legal issues remain the same. Another notion that has not changed is that the court’s parenting plan order is legally binding. Even by agreement, co-parents cannot alter the provisions without court approval.

Of course, life may throw a curveball that you did not expect when the existing order was entered. Illinois laws presume that your circumstances will change over time, which is why there is a process for modifying the parenting time schedule under certain conditions. It is wise to retain an experienced Lombard child custody and visitation attorney to handle the legal tasks, but some answers to common questions about modifications may be helpful.

What are the grounds for modifying parenting time in Illinois?

In order to establish the need to modify the visitation schedule, you need to prove two factors:

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