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Lombard divorce attorneysThe practice of forensic accounting is based on the idea that careful analysis and investigation can reveal potential problems or concerns regarding the financial situation of the individual, business, or entity in question. Forensic accountants, for example, are employed by law enforcement agencies—including the FBI—to investigate white-collar crime. They may also play a role in divorce cases—especially when the couple’s finances are complex and hidden assets could present a problem.

The Problem of Hidden Assets

Illinois law requires the marital estate of a divorcing couple to be divided between spouses in a manner that is fair and equitable. The first step in dividing marital property is determining what assets the couple owns. If both spouses are not completely open and honest regarding their finances, determining the actual extent of the marital estate will be impossible. Too often, spouse will try to hide sources of revenue or even tangible assets during a divorce hoping to keep them from his or her soon-to-be ex-partner. Hidden assets may be a particular danger if one spouse maintains full control over the couple’s finances or if a spouse owns a business that could be used to cover deceptive behavior.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard family law attorneyIf you are a stay-at-home parent facing divorce, you are not alone. Among the thousands of divorces which occur annually, a significant portion involves a parent that stays home, working to keep the house and family in order rather than working for someone else. Divorce has the possibility of being harder for these spouses than their counterpart, which does not need to be the case. The experience can be beneficial and positive with proper planning and preparedness.

Locate and Maintain Proper Records

You and your spouse’s separate lives have become fused into one shared life together through marriage, no matter how lengthy or brief. The process of divorce seeks to split the two into two equitable parts again. Everything from the house itself to the items within the home, to the finances and retirement plans, will need to be divided. Make these records available to make the process easier:

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning attorneyFor most people, the primary goal of estate planning is make sure that their wishes are carried out regarding their assets and property upon their death. Wills, trusts, and other instruments can help you do so, but the real challenge, in many cases, is figuring out exactly what you want for the future of your estate. An estate planning attorney cannot make such decisions for you, but we can give you some things to think about in making your choices.

Include a Variety of Heirs

Too often, people make the mistake of naming their spouse as the sole beneficiary of their estate. What if he or she outlives you? What will happen your estate plan then? You may also be tempted to leave everything you own to one of your children. As you develop your will, you must remember that you are looking toward the future, and the future is always full of uncertainty. If you choose a single beneficiary and something happens to him or her, the disposition of your estate could depend on that person’s estate planning decisions instead of your own.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard family law attorneyWhy did you marry your spouse? Most people answer this question by explaining all the desirable characteristics that the individual had that made them a good potential partner. They tend to note that their spouse was kind, thoughtful, generous, or funny. In essence, their spouse had a personality which complimented their own. We often think of character traits or personality to be intrinsically woven into a person’s DNA. A person may learn and grow but his or her personality never really changes. If this is the case, then why do so many marriages end in divorce?

Researcher and psychologist Walter Mischel says that everything we thought we knew about the immutability of someone’s personality may be wrong. These revelations about the instability of personality could help explain how two people who started out in love can find themselves so distant from one another after a relatively short period of time.

Mischel's Cognitive-Affective Model

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Lombard estate planning lawyersLast week, we started a discussion about common myths that many people believe about the process of estate planning. In that post, we talked about how it is never too early to begin estate planning and why probate is not always a terrible thing. Unfortunately, there are a number of other misconceptions that can cause unsuspecting individuals to make preventable mistakes as they draft their estate plans. Let’s look at a few more:

Myth: If I Die Without a Will, the State Will Take Everything

While there is no question that estate planning is important, it is not uncommon for some people to develop a plan only out of fear. Such individuals often believe that if they do not draft a will or create an estate plan, their property will be seized by the government and not distributed to their family members.

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Lombard family law attorneyToday, many households are dual-income households in which both spouses work. For the well-being of the couple’s children, however, it can sometimes be beneficial for one spouse to embrace the role of a stay-at-home parent. In these cases, having a postnuptial agreement can help clarify each spouse’s responsibilities in case of a future divorce. Before one spouse agrees to take taking extend time away from his or her career, all the potential repercussions should be discussed.

Children Can Change a Couple’s Career Dynamics

Introducing children into a marriage means change, and some families decide that it would be better for one parent to be at home with the children. Despite advances in equality and changing social views on gender roles, it is still usually the wife who elects to put her career on hold and become the stay-at-home parent. In some families, it is more economically advantageous for the male partner to stay home, and this certainly does play out in many households. Either way, couples with children should consider making arrangements for their children and their finances in the event of a divorce.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

DuPage County estate planning lawyersFor many people, estate planning is a vague, nebulous process that involves a person accepting his or her own mortality. Even among those who understand the importance of planning ahead, there are a number of myths regarding estate planning that continue to abound. A comprehensive estate plan is crucial to protecting your assets and your family’s financial future, and the process can be complicated if you believe things that simply are not true. Over the next several posts on this blog, we will address some of the most common estate planning myths, beginning with:

Myth: Estate Planning Is for Older People

Young adults, in many cases, are still shaking off their adolescent concept of invincibility, but it can take a while for that to actually happen. By the time they reach their 30s and 40s, they may understand that bad things can occur but still see estate planning as not quite necessary yet.

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Lombard family law attorneysA divorce, as most people realize, can be extremely stressful for everyone involved. Children commonly have the most difficulty adjusting to all of the changes. Unfortunately, the effects of a divorce may be felt by your child for many years after the process has been completed. There are several ways—including some things you can do right now—to help your child cope with the end of your marriage.

Listen to Their Problems and Worries

Children, just like adults, feel loved and cared for when they know you are listening to them. This is more than just hearing what they have to say. Listening requires you to both be active in showing you understand what they are worried about while withholding any judgments or solutions until after the child is done sharing. Even then, it important to allow your children the freedom to experience their feelings. Attempting to control your child’s emotions or shaming him or her for feeling a certain way is not healthy and can lead to larger problems down the road.

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Lombard mediation attorneysDivorce is typically a time of increased stress and emotions for the couple splitting. When we are emotionally wounded, we have a tendency to lash out against the person who caused the damage. Some events that happen throughout the course of a divorce have the proclivity to leave lasting emotional wounds to those involved. As adults, we have a better understanding of what is happening and why, but when children are involved, the situation changes. The impact of what happens during a divorce could last for decades or even a lifetime. Many divorcing spouses now seek alternative solutions as a means of protecting their children. One such method is mediation.

What is Mediation?

Even after years of marriage, it is possible just to realize that this is not what you truly want for your life. You and your spouse may have irreconcilable differences, and you just do not “mesh” well together anymore. That is absolutely okay and it does not make either of you any a bad or unlovable person. For situations such as these and others in which the splitting pair are able to maintain a civil relationship, mediation is a viable alternative to traditional divorce proceedings. Instead of heading straight to a courtroom armed with your own personal attorney, divorce mediation allows an opportunity for spouses to come together in a private location with a neutral third party—a mediator—and settle the divorce on their own terms.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen you are dealing with the loss of a family member or loved one, financial and property considerations may be the furthest thing from your mind. In the weeks that follow, however, your intense emotions are likely to subside, giving you the space to think about your loved one’s estate and his or her will. Depending on your relationship to the person and his or her accumulated property, you may be expecting a sizable inheritance. But what happens if the terms of the will are not what you expected? What if your inheritance is less than you were promised? According to Illinois law, you may have the option of contesting your loved one’s will, but doing so may not always be the best choice.

Contesting a Will

The law provides certain people with the right to file a will contest, including those who would have some claim to the decedent’s estate if the person had died without a will as well as those named in previous wills. This means that if the person who died was a family friend rather than a relative and you were never named in any version of his or her will, you have no standing to contest the final will.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard family law attorneysEnding a marriage through a divorce can leave a gaping hole in your life. You may feel lonely, depressed, unwanted, and bored. The way you used to spend your time and energy has changed, and now you want something new. Some divorcees want to avoid relationships for a time after splitting from their spouse while others are eager to start dating again. Is there a right time to start dating after getting a divorce?

Dating Before Your Divorce is Finalized

“Life happens” as the saying goes and sometimes you meet Mr. Right or Ms. Right before you are technically divorced. Many experts agree that dating during a divorce is not the wisest choice. You may choose to pursue a new relationship at this stage anyway, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyDeep down, most of us understand why having an estate plan in place would be a good thing. We know that we want our property and assets to be distributed among our family member or chosen charitable organizations. Put another way, we realize we “can’t take it with us” when we die. Despite these realities, more than half of American adults have not taken the time to draft a will, let alone develop a comprehensive estate plan. There are many possible motives why this may be true, but most tend to procrastinate on estate planning for largely the same reasons, including:

Death Is Scary

In a society that places such a high value on longevity and advances in health care, it should hardly be a surprise that people are hesitant to confront the idea that they will die at some point. That said, death will, one day, be a reality for everyone, and no matter what your beliefs may be regarding religion or the afterlife, your family members and your assets will be left behind. While our own mortality may be difficult, it is worth being uncomfortable for a little while to ensure your loved ones are provided for in your estate plan.

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Illinois family law attorneysThe decision to divorce is not one that is made easily. This is especially true for those that have children who are sure to be impacted by the complex process. To bring awareness to the struggles that children face in divorce and to help parents better understand how they can improve their child’s ability to cope and adjust, The Child of Divorce—an advocacy group for children—has created and recently released an emotional but educational video. The topics discussed in the video are extremely relevant to many families and provide tips that parents can use during their divorce.

A Child’s View of Divorce

Parents are often—and understandably—shaken, troubled, and possibly even shocked by the changes that divorce brings. Children experience many of these very same emotions but in a very different way. They often feel that the very foundation of their world is crumbling. All that was once stable, safe, and secure is changing, and they have no control or say over the matter. Yet they still feel a strong attachment to both parents. When the parties become more focused on “winning,” and less on the emotions and well-being of their children, young ones can feel as though they are being asked to choose. No child should ever be placed in this position.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhile you may not know the specific requirements that make one valid in the eyes of the law, you are probably familiar the concept of a will. You most likely realize that most people use a will to specify how their assets will be handled after their death. Many individuals also utilize trusts in the process of estate planning. But, what exactly is a trust and how can they help with your estate planning needs?

What Is a Trust?

A trust, at its most basic, is a fiduciary relationship that allows a person—a trustor—to give the right to hold property or assets to another person—a trustee—for the benefit of a third party or parties. There are several types of trusts that are commonly used in estate planning, but each of them has a similar structure. Assets and property are typically placed in a trust to be distributed at a later date—or over time—to the trustor’s named beneficiaries.

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Lombard divorce attorneysWe have all heard the phrase “love is blind.” Many of us have even fallen victim to it ourselves. It is not uncommon for a person, when he or she first falls in love, tend to only see their partner’s good points while ignoring their faults and evident warning signs. This is likely to be a contributing factor to many divorces, especially for couples who marry after only knowing each other a short time.

Such is often the case for people who marry someone, only to find out later that their spouse is a “gold digger.” The word gold digger refers to a person who begins a romantic relationship or marries a partner because the partner is wealthy or well-connected. These relationships are also referred to as romance scams. Although it is common to think that only women are gold diggers, there are many cases in which men are just as guilty.

Know the Warning Signs

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Lombard estate planning attorneyAs you age, it is not unreasonable for your needs to change. Depending on your physical and mental health, you may require more personal and medical care than you once did. While your family members and loved ones may be willing to help, they may not always be equipped or able to do so. In such cases, you may need to depend upon a caregiver with whom you have no family or personal relationship—at least at the beginning. Over time, you may become very close with your caregiver, possibly even close enough to consider including him or her in your will.

Legal Protections

In 2015, Illinois lawmakers amended to the Illinois Probate Act to provide additional protections for those who are under the care of non-family caregivers. The amendment created the presumption that any transfer of property exceeding $20,000 to an unrelated caregiver is fraudulent if the transfer is challenged. According to the law, the presumption of fraud would invalidate the will or trust making such a transfer.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard divorce lawyerA divorce can complete reshape a person’s life. In addition to possibly forcing you to live off a single, your divorce may also create concerns regarding child custody disputes, alimony payments, and the challenges of finding a new place to live.

Separated spouses may live in different states, or one spouse may wish to move out of state after the proceedings. If you or your former spouse plans to leave the state, there are several factors to consider. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to postpone the move.

Moving Before and After Filing for Divorce

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard divorce lawyerThe aftermath of a divorce is often the most difficult for the children involved in the process. Children of divorced parents tend to face extreme emotional conflict and upheaval. It is, therefore, imperative for parents to ensure that their children feel loved, supported, and heard. There are four key strategies to keep in mind when trying to help a child understand and navigate divorce.

Discuss Divorce Appropriately

Children need to feel included when major changes impact the family; it is completely unfair and counterproductive to keep them in the dark. If divorce is looming, it should be discussed with the children as soon as possible. Ideally, you will be able to find a quiet, familiar place where everyone can sit down and talk. Children do not need to know all the details involved with the pending divorce. However, they do need to know the basic facts of the situation and these facts should be presented to them in an age-appropriate manner.

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Posted on in Paternity

Lombard family law attorneyFor many fathers, it can be extremely difficult to maintain an active role in the lives of their children. This is especially true for a father who has gone through a divorce or breakup with his child’s mother. In many cases, it feels like the proverbial deck is stacked against a man when it comes to child custody decisions—now known as the allocation of parental responsibilities under Illinois law. Unfortunately, many such issues are based on the persistent public perception that men are less qualified to serve as primary—or even equal—caregivers for their children.

Anecdotal Examples

Recently, a discussion on the social media site Reddit addressed the various ways that men have experienced sexism in their lives. Many responses dealt with female-dominated work environments, physical abuse at the hands of female partners, and distrust from authorities when a man has been the victim of domestic violence. However, there was a substantial number of responses that described the experiences of men when they are seen in public with children—including their own.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersEstate planning is arguably one of the most important things a person will do during their entire life, and as such, everything matters. The slightest discrepancy may be attacked, and your wishes may not be honored if your estate is not set up and administered properly. Perhaps the most important choice you must make while estate planning is picking your executor, who can ensure that your wishes are carried out as you prefer and act on your behalf.

Responsibilities of an Executor

A person who has been named an executor in Illinois has 30 days following the death of the testator in which to either submit the will for probate or refuse the appointment. The responsibility of managing another’s estate is a heavy one, and, as such, it is important to pick the right person. The instinct for many is to choose their spouse, but this is not always the best choice, especially if you are of similar ages and he or she may be older and/or ill when the time comes for them to assume the role. Who you choose must be able to fulfill all of the duties of the executor including:

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