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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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Lombard parenting time attorney Even when a separating couple has the best intentions to part ways and co-parent peacefully, the end of a relationship can create tense and stressful situations. Unlike spouses who are divorcing, a couple who is not married can separate without the need to legally dissolve their relationship. However, if a couple has a child together, the end of a relationship requires more planning and decision-making. This process can become contentious, especially if the parties disagree on parenting matters such as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. If you are facing a child custody dispute, a family law attorney can help you explore your options and advise you of the steps you can take to achieve a favorable outcome.

Establishing Paternity

For a married couple, there is usually no need to establish parental rights. According to Illinois law, when a child is born to a married couple, the spouses are assumed to be the child's legal parents. However, if a child is born to an unmarried couple, the father may not automatically be considered the child's legal parent. In these cases, paternity may need to be established either through a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form, through an Administrative Paternity Order, or through an Order of Paternity issued through the courts. After the father's parental rights have been established, the parents may determine how to address custody of the child.

How Child Custody Is Determined

The allocation of parenting responsibilities, formerly called child custody, is decided on an individual, case-by-case basis, which means there is no universal arrangement that is followed for divorcing or unmarried parents. When a non-married couple breaks up, they will typically use one of two methods to create a parenting plan:

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Lombard estate planning attorneysIt is a fact that many avoid thinking about, but unexpected illnesses and accidents happen to people every day. A living will is a type of advance medical directive that identifies the types of medical care you do and do not want if you cannot speak for yourself due to a major illness or injury. Through a living will, you decide in advance whether you want treatments such as dialysis, artificial ventilation, or a feeding tube to be used if you are incapacitated. Not only does a living will put you in charge of your future medical care, it also saves your loved ones the burdensome task of making important medical decisions on your behalf. If you are considering using a living will to specify your future medical wishes, you may be wondering, “When does a living will take effect?”

Determining When a Person Is Unable to Articulate Medical Wishes

A living will is used when a person has a terminal condition and is unable to express his or her wishes about death-delaying procedures. A terminal condition is typically defined as a medical condition that is incurable and will result in imminent death. The Illinois Living Will Act regulates the rules regarding living wills. In a living will, you will give a declaration explaining directions for medical care should you be unable to express these directions yourself. The declaration reads in part, “In the absence of my ability to give directions...it is my intention that this declaration shall be honored… as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical treatment.”

A living will goes into effect when your physician decides that you can no longer express your own healthcare decisions and certifies this in writing. To make this determination, doctors typically consider whether the patient can:

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Wheaton property division attorney

During the divorce process, couples must go through financial documents when determining how to divide assets and property and addressing issues such as spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support. In many marriages, a couple’s finances are straightforward, but that is not always the case. In some situations, forensic accounting may be necessary to analyze financial data more closely. If you are considering a divorce and are not sure how forensic accounting may benefit you, it is essential to speak with an experienced family law attorney who can help you explore your options. 

What Is Forensic Accounting? 

Forensic accountants utilize accounting and auditing skills as well as investigative skills to perform a thorough examination of individuals’ financial records. Forensic accountants can be useful during a divorce because they are adept at uncovering financial information that a divorcing spouse may have attempted to hide from his or her spouse and the courts. Forensic accountants may review several types of documents, including:

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DuPage County estate planning attorneysHome health aides, private duty nurses, and other paid caregivers can make a tremendous impact on the lives of the elderly or disabled individuals in their care. From helping with medical needs to transporting patients to and from doctors’ appointments to simply providing companionship, these caregivers are a valuable source of support. For many people, these caregivers are more like family members than hired help. If you have a special, non-related caregiver who goes above and beyond to make your life better, you may be considering leaving him or her an inheritance. Special laws dictate rules regarding inheritance to non-related caregivers in Illinois, so it is important to discuss your inheritance plans with an estate planning attorney to make sure your wishes will be followed.

Illinois Law Regarding Inheritance Left to Non-Related Caregivers

Unfortunately, elder financial abuse is a major problem in Illinois and throughout the United States. Some caregivers will use deceit or psychological manipulation to influence an elderly or disabled person into changing their estate plans so the plans benefit the caregiver. Because of the prevalence of elder financial abuse, Illinois lawmakers recently amended the Illinois Probate Act of 1975 to include special rules regarding inheritances left to non-relative caregivers. According to the law, a property transfer of more than $20,000 is automatically presumed to be fraudulent during any challenges to a will or trust. This means that if you leave your caregiver property valued at more than $20,000 and someone disputes the validity of your will or trust in court, it is possible that your caregiver will not receive this inheritance.

What to Do If You Wish to Leave a Large Inheritance to a Non-Family Caregiver

You worked hard to accumulate the assets you own and you deserve to choose who those assets are passed down to upon your death. If you have decided that you would like to include your caregiver in your estate plans, speak to a lawyer. Your attorney will be able to help you transfer your property to the caregiver in a way that does not cause unnecessary legal problems in the future. Once you have made your estate plans, it may be a good idea to share these plans with your family. It is less likely that your plans will be contested if your surviving loved ones are not surprised by the contents of your will or other estate planning documents upon your death.

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DuPage County child custody attorney psychological expert

Even when spouses have the best intentions to end their marriage peacefully, divorces have the potential to be filled with contention. Throughout the divorce process, a couple must make many life-altering decisions, including how assets are divided, the details of a parenting plan, and decisions regarding spousal support. In many cases, the decisions regarding children can be the most difficult. When determining the allocation of parenting responsibilities, it may be beneficial to seek the professional opinion of a psychological expert. If you are facing a custody case, your family law attorney can help you explore your options and provide you with advice on when to use a psychological expert. Below are three important factors to consider during your custody case:

Can Psychological Experts Impact the Outcome of a Custody Case?

When parenting plans are determined, the most important factor is the well-being of the child. For this reason, it is not uncommon for a parent (or both parents) to undergo a mental health evaluation per Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215. For example, a judge may order a mental health evaluation if there is any doubt regarding mental illness, addiction problems, or other psychological conditions that could impact the life of the child. During the exam, a psychological expert, who may be either a psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker, will determine:

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Wheaton spousal maintenance attorney

The decision to end a marriage can be emotionally, financially, and even physically devastating. A trusted therapist may help ease emotional stress, but what about the worries regarding finances? Regardless of whether your divorce is amicable or tumultuous, you will need to understand how to protect your rights to the marital estate. If you are facing a divorce and are unsure how to protect your financial interests, you should speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney to explore your potential next steps. In the meantime, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about finances during divorce:

How Much Will a Divorce Cost?

There are many expenses associated with the divorce process. You will be required to pay a variety of court costs and filing fees, and the costs of hiring and working with an attorney throughout the divorce process may add up to several thousand dollars or more. In addition, there are a variety of other ways that legally ending your marriage can impact your finances, including:

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