Share Your Experience

five star review
X
Blog
Lombard Office
630-426-0196
Wheaton Office
630-426-0196
Text Us Now
630-426-0196
Recent blog posts

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.

...

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:

...

Lombard IL estate planning lawyerWith just one glance at the hundreds of statutory provisions in the Illinois Probate Act, you can tell that the estate administration process can be overwhelming and complex. Unfortunately, it is usually necessary for most estates to go through probate. The timeline varies widely based upon the circumstances of the case, but the proceedings can take several months to more than a year. It can be disheartening to think about the time and cost involved, and you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to avoid the probate process. The good news is that there are multiple strategies for sidestepping a drawn-out court case, and one or more of them are often suitable to achieve many of your estate planning goals.

1. Joint Ownership of Certain Assets

For any real estate you currently own jointly, as well as property you purchase with someone in the future, you can title it as “joint tenants with right of survivorship” to avoid the probate process. It is also possible for joint tenants to have survivorship interests on a vehicle registered in Illinois. When this language appears on the deed or Certificate of Title, your interest in the asset passes to the other joint owners by operation of law when you die–not through the probate process.

2. Beneficiary Designations

Another way to pass on assets outside of probate is through beneficiary designations, which will also lead to an automatic transfer of ownership upon your death. Typically, you would include a beneficiary for a life insurance policy, as well as some bank and investment accounts. You can also name a beneficiary on an Illinois vehicle Certificate of Title.

...

IL divorce lawyerIf you are contemplating or currently going through a divorce in Illinois, you probably have a whole team of friends and family willing to help get you through tough times. Unfortunately, when this assistance comes in the form of legal advice on property division in divorce, misconceptions abound. You may hear that a “friend of a friend” recently got everything in a dissolution of marriage case, while someone else might relate how their cousin lost it all. It can be difficult to separate valid, credible details from conjecture.

One of your first priorities, when confounded by misconceptions, is to reach out to a Lombard property division attorney right away. Bad information can have a profound impact on your rights in a divorce case, and you put your interests at risk by attempting to address the complicated legal issues on your own. Still, it may help to debunk some of the myths about property division that do more harm than good.

Myth 1: Marital property is split equally between divorcing couples.

Illinois follows the law of equitable distribution when dividing assets acquired during the marriage, with the language of the property division statute requiring the court to divide items “in just proportions.” As such, the principles of equity and fairness apply when distributing assets, so the split may not be exactly 50-50.

...

Lombard estate planning attorneyNo matter what your age, a will can offer numerous benefits as part of a comprehensive estate plan. As the AARP notes, your will serves as a roadmap for stating your intentions, distributing your possessions to beneficiaries, and wrapping up your final affairs. With a will, you maintain control over your assets instead of being subject to Illinois intestacy laws and reduce the potential for disputes among surviving loved ones, saving time and money in the estate administration process.

What you may not know is there are a few objectives you cannot accomplish by creating a will. This can lead to surprises if you expect to achieve certain goals, so it is wise to consult with an estate planning attorney regarding the details. Here is an overview of four things you cannot do through your will.

1. Evade Creditors

If you incurred debts or related legal obligations during your lifetime, you will not be able to get rid of them through your will. Your creditors can still pursue your estate, and in some cases, specific beneficiaries, to obtain payment. The person you name as executor cannot avoid debts, because they will be required to provide notice to creditors and pay verified claims.

...

DuPage County estate planning lawyerIf you have already created a will, you should be happy to count yourself among the majority of Americans in certain age groups who have done so as well. According to AARP, almost 70 percent of individuals aged 65 years and older have prepared a will, as have just under 60 percent of people ranging from 50 to 64 years old. Like you, these testators appreciate having more control over their final affairs and the Illinois estate administration process, as well as knowing their assets are better prepared to make it to the hands of their intended beneficiaries.

However, there is much more to estate planning than just a will. Without other critical documents, there could be substantial gaps in your estate plan. As such, it is wise to talk to an estate planning attorney about other arrangements outside of your will, such as:

Health-Related Advance Directives

Some of the most critical estate planning documents provide advantages before your passing. Illinois allows for different kinds of advance directives, which provide instructions on how to handle your health care and medical needs if you become incapacitated. These include:

...

IL prenup lawyerFor anyone walking down the aisle anytime soon, some data regarding divorce should be encouraging in terms of the future of your relationship: The Institute for Family Studies (IFS) reports that divorces have been steadily decreasing in the U.S. over the last few decades, hitting a record low of 14.9 divorces for every 1,000 marriages in 2019. This is the biggest drop in more than 50 years, surpassing the rate of 15 divorces per 1,000 marriages in 1970. Even better news is that the duration of current marriages increased by one year over the period from 2010 to 2019.

These figures are reassuring as your wedding date approaches, but it is still essential to be prepared for unforeseen issues. One way to protect yourself and your future is to consider a prenuptial agreement – a topic that many spouses-to-be avoid because of the negative reputation. While you can rely on a DuPage County prenuptial agreement lawyer to help with the legal tasks, you could use a few tips on how to start up the conversation.

Start the Conversation Well in Advance of the Wedding

With a topic as critical as a prenup, do not wait until the eve of the wedding to open the discussion. The best time to approach the subject is shortly after becoming engaged and as you are planning your upcoming nuptials. Couples can have a more productive, less confrontational conversation when they are not under time constraints.

...

Lombard special needs trust lawyerIf you are considering ways to provide for a loved one with special needs, you have probably discovered the inherent conflict with giving money directly: Any funds you contribute could make this individual ineligible for benefits under the Social Security SSI program, Medicaid, and other forms of public assistance. Your heart may be in the right place, but you could be doing more harm than good when it comes to qualifying for needs-based programs that focus on income and assets.

With this information in mind, you may have also come across special needs trusts when researching ways to provide support. In short, this legal structure allows you to place funds in a trust managed by a trustee who makes permissible distributions that enable your loved one to still qualify for public programs. An estate planning lawyer can help with the details specific to your case, but you might benefit from knowing a few basic things about special needs trusts.

Creating a Third-Party Special Needs Trust 

You establish a third-party trust when you make the arrangements for a disabled beneficiary, often by appointing yourself as trustee. A first-party special needs trust would be one created by the person with special needs, such as when he or she received a settlement or inheritance. The distinction is important, since a first-party trust must pay Medicaid back when the beneficiary passes.

...

IL family lawyerIf what you know about paternity comes from daytime soap operas, TV dramas, or blockbuster films, there is a strong possibility that you do not have a clear picture of how the laws work in Illinois. You probably understand the fundamental principle under state statutes on parentage, which is that all children are entitled to the physical, mental, emotional, and monetary support of both parents. However, if parents were not married when the child was conceived and/or born, serious disputes can develop over these responsibilities.

When you realize that there is a lot you do not know about paternity proceedings, you soon understand that you put your parental rights at risk unless you retain a skilled Wheaton parentage lawyer. Because relying on misinformation could harm your interests, it is important to review a few lesser-known facts about Illinois paternity laws.

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

Parentage arises by legal presumption when parents are married, which means it can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary. However, between individuals who were never married, the two most common ways of proving paternity are:

...

DuPage County family law attorney paternity

In today’s world, it is becoming increasingly common for parents to have children while they are unmarried. However, this can lead to issues when it comes to establishing the paternity of that child. Establishing paternity is an important step in securing the same parental rights and responsibilities for the father of a child that are not automatically granted when parents are unmarried. Most of the time, paternity cases are aimed toward proving the paternity of a child, though in some cases, disproving the paternity of a child can be just as important. The easiest way to deny the paternity of a child is to sign the Denial of Parentage form at the hospital when the child is born; however, this does not always mean you are off the hook for parental responsibilities.

Fighting the Presumption of Paternity if You Are Married

In the state of Illinois, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he was married or in a civil union with the mother at the time the child was born or during the 300 days prior to the child’s birth. This is true even if the child is not the man’s biological child, which is where issues can arise. If the presumed father is not the child’s biological father, he can sign a Denial of Parentage form, stating that he is not the father. However, he will still be considered the child’s legal parent and held responsible for child support unless the biological father signs a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form confirming that he is the child’s biological father. 

...

Lombard, IL estate planning lawyerOne of the main goals of estate planning is to ensure that your wishes regarding your assets and property are carried out after your death. Of course, a qualified estate planning attorney is equipped to help you prepare the necessary documents and instruments to make the process relatively simple for you. For many of our clients, however, the real challenge is determining exactly what their wishes are. It can be difficult to decide who is to receive what portion of your estate, and while an attorney cannot tell you how to choose your beneficiaries when drafting your will, we can offer some things to consider.

Include Variety

It may be very tempting to oversimplify your will by naming your spouse as your only beneficiary. Or, perhaps, in acknowledgment that your spouse may not outlive you, you may choose to leave everything to one child. In creating your will, it is important to remember that you are planning for the future, which is always uncertain. Having a sole beneficiary can essentially negate most of your effort should something happen to that beneficiary, and suddenly, the disposition of your assets is dependent upon his or her own estate planning decisions.  By choosing multiple beneficiaries, or even designating secondary or tertiary beneficiary levels, you and your executor will maintain more control over the distribution of your estate.

Consider Family Dynamics

Although it may not seem fair to have to do so, you should also give thought to the way in which your family is likely to react to your decisions. Try to avoid a “who cares, I’ll be gone” attitude. In your estate planning, you have the opportunity to promote family harmony or to sow discord. Obviously, you cannot always predict emotional reactions, but you can take reasonable precautions and eliminate potential loopholes. For example, you may choose to leave a majority of your estate to one child with the understanding that he or she will distribute the inheritance among siblings and descendants. An “understanding” is not the same as explicitly naming the other beneficiaries, however, and there is no law preventing the beneficiary child from keeping the full inheritance.

...

DuPage County family law attorney child custody

In Illinois, the term “child custody” was replaced by the “allocation of parental responsibilities” in 2016. Instead of one or both parents having “custody” of their children, the parents are expected to create an agreement that allocates the parental responsibilities and parenting time—formerly known as visitation. This agreement is called a parenting plan, and it involves careful consideration to create one that makes the children’s well-being a priority. 

What Is a Parenting Plan?

When getting a divorce, the parents of children must decide how the children will be taken care of after the separation. A parenting plan will be drafted that explains which parent has what responsibilities, and who the children will see, and when. A schedule will be created that both parents and the children will follow after the divorce. That schedule may include what days children spend with either parent, who picks up the children from school, and what activities each parent is involved in. 

...

DuPage County family law attorney divorce mediation

If you are getting a divorce, you might want to consider employing divorce mediation to help both you and your spouse reach a fairer and less stressful dissolution of your marriage.

In addition, many other issues in family law could be resolved through mediation as well, including child custody. Here is some more information about mediation in case you are considering it for you and your family.

...

DuPage County estate planning lawyerIt is tragically common for children of any age to experience serious problems following the death of a parent. What may have begun as typical sibling rivalry and relatively minor annoyances may develop into an irreparable chasm between brothers and sisters when their mother or father is no longer there to mediate. In some cases, sibling estrangement is inevitable, as years of competition and hurt feelings may eventually lead to a permanent rift. In other situations, however, conscientious estate planning by the parent can help prevent more serious problems from developing.

If you have noticed that your children struggle to get along with each other at times, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you put together a plan designed to reduce friction and promote healthy relationships.

Discuss Certain Elements of Your Plan in Advance

Jealousy is one of the most common factors between estranged siblings, but communication can often alleviate such feelings before they become problematic. Before you formalize your estate plan, sit down with your children and have a frank discussion about the future. Your children are not responsible for making your estate planning decisions, but their input can be very valuable in developing a plan that will foster ongoing relationships when you are gone.

...

Lombard estate planning attorneyAccording to an analysis of information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of couples who choose to live together without getting married skyrocketed from 230,000 in 1995 to over 1.5 million today – a 550 percent increase. Included in these numbers are older couples who choose to cohabit without the various legal protections that a legally recognized marriage offers. This lack of protection can have a significant impact on rights of inheritance and other estate planning concerns.

At our firm, we have helped hundreds of families develop an estate plan to meet their unique needs, and we understand the challenges that unmarried, cohabitating couples may face. There are steps that both younger and older couples who cohabit should consider to ensure that if something should happen to one of them, the other is both financially and legally protected.

Transferring Assets

Couples who are married are entitled to tax-free transfers of at least a significant portion of assets upon the death of one spouse. Cohabiting couples, however, are not afforded that same benefit. That is why it is essential for unmarried couples to have a will in place that clearly specifies what their wishes are when it comes to those assets. It may also be a smart move to consider a living trust, which allows for more control during your lifetime and can help to avoid the costs and uncertainty of probate.

...

DuPage County family law attorney parenting time

divorce does not just affect you and your spouse. It also has a significant impact on your children. What used to be one home now becomes two. They may have to change schools, make new friends, and will rarely spend time with both parents. Holidays, birthdays, and even soccer games are going to be different. Of course, children can and do adjust. How well they do so is often reliant upon how well their parents get along once the divorce process is complete. This is why all parents should work exceedingly hard at successfully co-parenting during and after their divorce.

#1. Stay Focused on What Is Really Important

It is easy to get caught up in the swirling emotions of divorce. Your anger, bitterness, or sadness may cause you to fight for things that might not otherwise matter. Alternatively, you may give up things that are important, just to get the process over with. Neither will serve you or your child well in divorce. You deserve time with your child, as does your spouse. The little things you are arguing over may not matter in a few years. So, rather than argue over the details, try to keep your focus centered on your child. Know when the fight is worth the effort, and when it is better to just let go.

...

DuPage County estate planning attorneyDo you have a plan for the allocation of your property and assets in the event of your death? Such concerns can be difficult to address, as many people, including a large number of my clients, have trouble with the concept of death and estate planning. It is extremely important, however, to formalize arrangements for your estate well in advance. As uncertain as the future may be, leaving your estate in the hands of the state without a will or other direction can be even more unpredictable. Personal assets that are not addressed in a will or a trust are known as intestate property and will be allocated by the state in accordance with its intestacy laws.

Intestate Succession

The condition of intestacy is created, generally, when a person dies without a will. In the event a will was created but did not make provisions for certain assets or contain broader provisions for unaddressed assets, intestacy laws are applied to the specific, unaddressed property. When a person dies intestate, Illinois law requires that all debts and obligations of the deceased must be satisfied before any property may be allocated. Once that is completed, a seemingly endless list of “if-then” possibilities govern how the estate is to be divided.

For example, if a person dies intestate, leaving a spouse and children, then intestacy laws provide that the spouse receives half of the person’s assets, and the children receive the other half. If the deceased has children but no living spouse, the children inherit everything. The same would be true in reverse: with no children, but a surviving spouse, the spouse would inherit the entire estate. When a person dies intestate with no spouse or descendants, the law then looks to parents and siblings of the deceased, and the complexities increase.

...

DuPage County family law attorney order of protection

While you are in a relationship, it may difficult to recognize the signs of domestic abuse. However, just as you may recognize the symptoms of an illness, there are signs to be aware of that show that you may be a victim of abuse. It is important to recognize these signs and take steps to protect yourself and your family from harm. 

What Is Domestic Abuse?

In Illinois, physical harm, willful restriction of personal liberties, threats, harassment, and stalking are all considered domestic abuse. Accusations of abuse are very serious, and they could lead to criminal consequences such as jail time or fines, as well as decisions in family court that affect divorce proceedings and a person’s parental responsibilities regarding his or her children. 

...

DuPage County living will attorneyIt is understandably difficult for many people to consider their own end-of-life health care decisions. They may convince themselves that they will have plenty of time to think about such things when the time comes. What if you do not have plenty of time, however? What if, for example, you are suddenly diagnosed with a fast-moving illness or terminal injuries? Being prepared is always the better option, and a power of attorney for health care and a living will can help you stay ahead of life’s unpredictability.

What is a Power of Attorney for Health Care?

While a living will and power of attorney for health care can be used in conjunction with each other, it is important to understand the basic differences between the two. A power of attorney for health care grants an individual or entity of your choosing—known as an agent—the authority to make medical and health-related decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. This typically applies to situations of mental or physical incapacitation. The power of attorney may include specific directions for the agent regarding your wishes, and any health-related concern you have not specifically addressed will be decided at the discretion of your appointed agent.

What Can I Include in a Living Will?

Compared to a power of attorney, a living will is a bit more specific. The Illinois Living Will Act provides the applicable guidelines for such documents, or declarations, as they are statutorily known. A living will is sometimes called an advance medical directive and is used to outline your wishes regarding “death-delaying procedures” in the event you are suffering from a terminal condition. A declaration would only take effect if you were unable to give directions related to your care.

...

Lombard IL estate planning attorneyMore than half of all Illinois households include at least one family pet. Of course, in many homes, a companion animal like a dog or cat is much more than a pet; they are a part of the family, with their own personality, temperament, and individuality. But, have you considered what will happen to your beloved animal friend in the event that you are no longer able to care for them? Through the estate planning process, you have probably begun to address your home, car, and the guardianship or care of your children. However, it is also important to plan for the ongoing care of pets. Fortunately, there is a tool known as a pet trust, that when used properly can offer you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your dog or cat will be well cared for, even if you cannot provide the care.

Why Not a Will?

According to the law, pets—even domestic animals—are considered property. However, in various applications, including divorce, courts have begun recognizing that there are some special considerations that must be made. While pets are not quite human, they are certainly different from property like furniture or artwork. For the purposes of estate planning, the Illinois legislature has created the ability for a pet owner to establish and fund a pet trust to provide for the care of companion animals after the owner’s death. As property, pets can also be included in an owner’s will, but given that a will has to go through the often time-consuming and messy process of probate, a trust allows the animal to be settled into its new home and environment much faster with less hassle.

Elements of an Illinois Pet Trust

You should, of course, work with a qualified estate planning attorney when developing the terms of your pet trust, but the law in Illinois provides some basic guidelines. When deciding how much money to set aside for the care of your pet, it is important to realize that the court may reduce the amount if it is deemed to be unreasonable. Setting aside too much could also give rise to a will contest by disgruntled would-be heirs claiming that you were not mentally competent during the estate planning process.

...
Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
Back to Top