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Arlington Heights estate planning attorney

A marriage can have a significant impact on your estate plan. Married couples generally create an estate plan together— all or most of the marital assets are typically passed onto the surviving spouse. Only when he or she passes does the estate plan take effect. However, this is not always the case, particularly if one of the spouses has children from a previous marriage, or if there is a large age difference between the spouses. Moreover, if you are in the middle of a separation or a divorce, which can take over one year to finalize in many cases, it can have a significant impact on how you should handle your estate planning. 

How Marriage Impacts Estate Planning

Marriage makes it easier for you to leave assets to your spouse after death. Even if you fail to do any estate planning or create a will, Illinois intestate succession states that a spouse inherits all of the intestate property. If there are children, then the intestate property is split between the spouse and children 50/50.  

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DuPage County Divorce Attorney asset division

Each week, month, and year, new social media trends get released and new platforms begin to surface. What was popular last week, may not mean much once another Monday rolls around. As smartphones and social media have become more integrated into our lives, it can be easy to forget that there are still personal boundaries when it comes to what should and should not be posted online. Studies have shown that social media content has affected people’s views on their relationships, including romantic ones, sometimes causing issues that could be mitigated without the high usage of social media. With Facebook’s option to list your relationship status, Instagram’s ability to post photos with your new significant other, and Twitter’s propensity to elicit Tweets venting about your ex, your social media posts can greatly impact your Illinois divorce.

Using Your Spouse’s Posts to Your Advantage

If both you and your spouse are heavy social media users, your posts may become evidence in your divorce proceedings. While a judge cannot make a decision based on a single post, online postings can be an indicator of your spouse’s character and reveal white lies he or she may have attempted to tell throughout the divorce. 

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen considering estate planning, it is wise to have some of your assets set aside as liquid assets. Liquid assets are easily turned into cash, the most obvious form being a checking or savings account. Mutual funds, stocks, and money market assets are also considered to be liquid. Non-liquid assets include physical property, which can take months to sell, or ownership in a company.

Immediate Access to Liquid Funds After Your Death

There are specific expenses that will come up very quickly after your death and your survivors may or may not be prepared to pay for these costs without using the funds from your estate. These costs may include:

  • Funeral and Burial Costs - According to Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage, the average funeral costs between $7,000 and $12,000. Even a cremation can cost $6,000 to $7,000. 

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DuPage County divorce attorney infidelity

Going through a divorce is never easy. Rightfully so, going through a divorce caused by an affair can be even more heart-wrenching. If you discover that your partner was cheating on you during your marriage, you may experience trust and loyalty issues in future relationships. Additionally, you may also believe that your spouse’s mistress caused this, and therefore you wish to take legal action against her. Within the state of Illinois, an individual may file a civil tort claim for alienation of affection or criminal conversation against the mistress. In this type of claim, the individual may sue the person who ruined her marriage and ask the judge to award damages based on mental disruption, humiliation to the public, and loss of support and/or wages from her spouse.

Criminal Conversation

Despite its name, criminal conversation is a civil case brought up in civil court where the defendant will not face criminal charges or jail time if convicted. Criminal conversation requires ample evidence, and in this case, the individual suing the spouse’s mistress must prove that adultery happened during the duration of the marriage. Such evidence includes pictures and/or videos that are gathered with the help of a private investigator.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWith coronavirus hitting the United States hard, many people are realizing the importance of estate planning. Not only are people worried about their financial future, but they are also concerned about what would happen if they became gravely ill from COVID-19. Luckily, Governor Pritzker determined at the beginning of the pandemic that legal services were still an essential business in Illinois. There is no better time to consider what will happen to your assets after death. Moreover, it is extremely important to get your affairs in order so that your children and grandchildren are properly taken care of.

What Happens to the Home?

Having a will and testament is not enough to keep your property out of probate, which is a long and costly process. Furthermore, if you do not designate beneficiaries and complete the proper legal paperwork to transfer your property after your death, it is possible that any family members who live with you could lose their home. One way to ensure your family stays in your home after your death is by setting up a transfer on death instrument which allows you to designate a beneficiary who will receive interest on the property and avoid probate. Other options include creating a living trust, joint tenancy, or life estate. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can guide you through which option is best for you and your family.

Thinking About Your Medical Care

At the beginning of the pandemic many patients who were seriously ill were being sedated and put on ventilators to help their breathing. At this point, patients are no longer coherent to make their own medical decisions. According to NextGen Wealth, 80 percent of terminally ill patients do not want to receive intensive care at the end of their lives, yet fewer than 50 percent of terminally ill patients have an advanced care directive that would prevent them from receiving such unwanted care. Other documents that help determine what medical care you will receive include a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) form and a HIPAA authorization form. Designating a medical power of attorney allows another person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself.

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Wheaton estate planning lawyerGeneration-skipping trusts, also known as dynasty trusts, are a way of avoiding estate taxes on an individual’s property and assets after death. It is a legally binding agreement that skips the children’s generation and leaves the inheritance to the grantor’s grandchildren to avoid an estate being taxed twice. With a generation-skipping trust, the children can still access the funds to pay for education, health, maintenance, and support, but upon their death, it automatically goes to their children. Generation-skipping trusts are a type of irrevocable trust, which means they cannot be changed or canceled. For this reason, it is wise to speak with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can assist in creating the trust before attempting to do so yourself.

Who Can Be the Beneficiaries?

The fact that this type of trust is called a generation-skipping trust leads many people to believe that the only beneficiaries can be grandchildren. However, the trust can be set up for anyone who is 37.5 years younger than the grantor. If the beneficiary is not a relative, he or she is called a “skip-person.” According to Internal Revenue Code 2651, if the parents die before the grandchild, then the grandchild moves into his or her parent’s place in line and a generation-skipping trust is no longer applicable to them. 

Tax Exemptions Associated with a Generation-Skipping Trust

According to Forbes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the estate and gift tax exemption is $11.58 million per individual and $23.16 million per couple for 2020. Any estate worth more than these exemption amounts will be taxed at 40 percent federally. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which went into effect in 2018, nearly doubled the exemption amounts. This act is set to expire at the end of 2025, at which point Congress will need to renew it for the exemptions to remain as large as they have been. 

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DuPage County divorce attorney child support

A divorce involves many issues that need resolving, especially when children are involved. When determining child support, the financial status of both parents is seriously considered. If the non-custodial parent is providing support, the child’s medical expenses may cause an additional financial burden. These additional expenses could cause the judge to lessen the amount of support given to the custodial parent. Whether you are the non-custodial or the custodial parent, it is important to consult with a skilled family law attorney if you have any questions or concerns regarding your child support payments.

Determining Support

Child support calculations can be incredibly complex. Within the state of Illinois, child support payments are usually paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to provide additional financial support for the child’s basic needs such as food and clothing. Payments can also be used to fund tuition, transportation, housing expenses, extracurricular activities, and medical care costs. These factors, as well as the net income of both parents, will be used to determine the amount of support the custodial parent will receive from the non-custodial parent. 

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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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