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Lombard estate planning attorneysNearly everyone appreciates saving money on a good deal. However, when it comes to do-it-yourself estate planning, not every “good deal” is as good as it appears. Online estate planning services are more prevalent than ever, but many legal professionals worry that some of these websites are not being honest about how beneficial their services really are. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of DIY wills as well as how you can ensure that your estate planning documents will be legally binding.

DIY Wills Are Not Personalized to Your Unique Needs

One of the biggest differences between DIY or online estate planning services is that these programs are almost always one-size-fits-all solutions. Because these services have to work for a wide range of individuals, there is very little personalization to the plans. If you have complex assets, a blended family, a second marriage, or other unique circumstances, you are not likely to have these specific needs addressed by an impersonal website. Some of these online programs do offer personal advice from professionals, but this is often an additional service which costs quite a bit more.

It Can Be Hard to Know Which Estate Planning Documents You Need  

Most estate planning attorneys suggest that individuals have a will and/or trust, power of attorney for financial decisions, and an advance health care directive or living will. However, each individual has unique needs that may not be met by the most common estate planning documents. A licensed attorney can help you figure out which documents you need in order to meet you and your family’s needs. Furthermore, working with a professional means that he or she is considering the tax implications of your decisions and can help you choose the course of action which decreases financial loss to taxes as much as possible.

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DuPage County adoption lawyer

Historically, same-sex couples have had difficulties adopting children. In the past, this could be attributed to the lack of social acceptance of homosexuality. This social misunderstanding and form of discrimination have significantly faded in recent years.  

The State of Michigan Takes Action

Adoption agencies are a helpful resource many couples utilize when they hope to grow their family. Although there are secular agencies, many adoption agencies are religious-based, and thus let their faith’s beliefs determine who can or cannot adopt a child. It is common for religious agencies to deny same-sex couples. This is the case in Michigan for couples from Dimondale and Detroit.

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Lombard trusts attorneyEven if you do not know how to write one that is valid, you probably know what a will is. Or, maybe you are more familiar with the longer name of a “Last Will and Testament.” There is a good chance that you know that most people create a will to direct how their property will handed down to the next generation after they die. You may also have heard of trusts, but you may be unsure as what a trust actually is. Fortunately, we can help you develop a better understanding of trusts and how they can be used in estate planning.

Trust Basics

All trusts are formal instruments that allow the creator of the trust—called a “grantor” or “trustor”—to transfer ownership of his or her property into the trust to be managed by another person or entity—called a “trustee”—for the benefit of a third person or persons—called “beneficiaries.” Several different kinds of trusts can be used for estate planning purposes, each with its own set of rules, requirements, and potential advantages. All of them, however, are similar in structure and hold assets to be transferred at a later time—usually after the death of the grantor.

Revocable Trusts and Irrevocable Trusts

Most trusts fall into one of two primary categories. They can be either revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust—often known as a living trust—allows for the transfer of assets, but the terms of the trust can be changed at any time while the grantor is still living. The entire trust can even be revoked; hence the name. In most cases, the grantor of a revocable trust will appoint himself or herself as the primary trustee so that he or she can remain in control of the trusts property during his or her lifetime. Upon the grantor’s death, a contingent or successor trustee will assume the role.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyAs you get older, your needs are going to change. Many people require more medical and personal care in their later years than they did when they were younger. If this happens to you, your loved ones and family members will probably be on board with helping as much as possible, but they might not be able or equipped to provide the level of care that you need. In such a situation, you might need to rely on an independent caregiver—someone that you are not related to or do not really know in any other capacity. While a caregiver might be a stranger at first, it is possible that you will become closer with him or her over time. Depending on the circumstances, your caregiver might do so much to help you that you even think about adding him or her as an heir in your will.

What the Law Says

Several years ago, lawmakers in Illinois updated the Illinois Probate Act of 1975 (755 ILC 5) to address inheritances left to non-related caregivers. The 2015 amendment addressed situations in which an estate planning instrument, including a will or trust, left more than $20,000 to a caregiver who was not related to the decedent. Under the amended law, a transfer of property greater than $20,000 is presumed to be fraudulent in the event that the transfer is subject to a challenge. The presumption of fraud will invalidate any instrument making the transfer.

The law, as it now stands, might seem harsh, but it was passed with good intentions. A caregiver often has virtually unrestricted access to a person whose health, age, or mental capacity might leave him or her especially vulnerable. A dishonest caregiver could fairly easily exercise undue influence over the person and convince him or her to write a new will or to add provisions that will benefit the caregiver. Family members and other would-be beneficiaries might not even know about the changes until after the person dies.

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Lombard estate planning attorneysAlthough the law considers pets to be property, pet owners often think of their pets as family members. If you have a beloved pet, you may want to include him or her in your estate plans. If there is a possibility that your animal companion may outlive you, you may want to include provisions as to how your pet should be cared for after you pass. Read on to learn about how you can plan for your pets future through estate planning.

Why Include Pets in Estate Plans?

If you are an animal lover, you probably worry about your pets often. You may especially worry if your pet requires special care or has a health concern. One reason many people include pets in estate plans is to plan for the possibility that they become incapacitated or pass away before the animal does. Sometimes, when a pet owner dies, their beloved pet can end up at a shelter – especially if no surviving family members are available to care for the pet. Surviving family members may be unable to care for their deceased loved one’s pet due to pet restrictions in their apartment or home, allergies, expense, concern for the children or animals already living in their home, or other reasons. It is best not to assume that your family will care for your pet without making formal arrangements.

Illinois Pet Trusts

Illinois law allows you to create a legal arrangement to provide care for your pet after your death via a pet trust. The person who creates the trust, called a “grantor”, can design the pet trust to take effect during his or her lifetime or upon death. Through a pet trust, a trustee will hold money “in trust” for the benefit of the grantor’s pet. The trustee is expected to use the financial resources to care for the pet in accordance with the instructions contained in the trust agreement. After the animal dies, any remaining funds are distributed as provided in the trust. Trusts, unlike informal arrangements, are legally enforceable. This means that the trustee cannot simply take the money provided through the trust for himself or herself, although he or she can retain a fee for carrying out the decedent’s wishes.

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Lombard, IL prenup lawyer

Remarrying an ex-spouse is fairly uncommon but it does happen. This typically happens with couples who married young and have been divorced for a significant period of time. People grow older and wiser, realize their mistakes, and change their futures based on the experiences they have acquired since the end of that relationship. 

According to research conducted by Nancy Kalish, a professor emeritus at California State University, 6 percent of couples claim to have married, divorced, and remarried the same person. Of these individuals, 72 percent stay together after remarrying. 

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Lombard estate planning attorneyOne of the most important estate planning decisions you will make is choosing the executor of your estate. In most cases, the executor of an estate is usually a close relative or friend, but it does not have to be. The job of an executor includes managing and protecting the property of the decedent. The executor of your estate will be responsible for making sure that your final wishes are fulfilled and that your property is maintained until disbursement. He or she will also be responsible for paying estate debts and any outstanding tax obligations.

The person you select as executor of your estate has a tremendous responsibility. It is imperative that you choose someone who is capable of managing your estate effectively. Mismanagement of estate assets can result in losses to your beneficiaries as well as family arguments.

Executor Duties and Responsibilities

One of the first things an executor should do following the death of the estate’s original owner is to obtain at least several official copies of the state-issued death certificate. He or she will need these in order to fulfill executor duties. The executor must use these to access financial accounts and cancel government checks from programs like Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). A copy of the death certificate must also be included with the estate’s final federal tax return. It might also be the executor’s responsibility to handle the funeral and burial financial arrangements if arrangements were not already made.  

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DuPage County law firm

Some parents are forced to have a relationship with their child from hundreds of miles away. This is common for military members, individuals who travel often for work, separated couples, and those going through the divorce process. No matter the circumstances, trying to care for a child with a long distance between you is not easy. The transition is usually the most difficult part, especially if this is a recent lifestyle change. You start to miss the little moments and sometimes the big ones, too. Gone are the days of dropping your child off at school each morning and putting them to bed at night, and while you try not to miss the big events, life sometimes gets in the way. 

Here are a few tips about how to maintain a healthy parent-child relationship when many miles separate you.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyWhen a person dies, the impact of the death can be great on the person’s surviving family members and friends. The emotions associated with a loss—especially one caused by a premature death—can make a grieving survivor act in uncharacteristic ways. Such behavior can lead to disputes over all sorts of matters, including the terms of the deceased person’s will. A battle over inheritances can be devastating to a family, and the resulting scars can last for years, if not forever. If you are currently drafting your will, you may want to think about including a no-contest clause to reduce the chances of such problems after your death.

What Is a No-Contest Provision?

No-contest clauses are also called in terrorem provisions, which is Latin for “by way of threat.” In essence, no-contest clauses threaten any named heir who contests the will, and they are used to discourage family in-fighting after the death of the will’s creator. Most no-contest clauses hold that an heir who formally contests the will automatically forfeits the portion of the estate that was originally intended for him or her. Sometimes, a no-contest clause might reduce the inheritance of a heir who challenges the will to $5 or another nominal amount.

The basic idea is that if that if the possibility exists that the heir will receive nothing, he or she is more likely to accept the original terms of the will, even if they are not to the heir’s liking. Keep in mind that a no-contest clause cannot stop a will contest from being filed. It can only affect what might happen after the contest.

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DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Divorce may have been taboo in the past but it is far from uncommon in today’s society. Statistics fluctuate year-to-year, but divorce rates are actually decreasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Illinois had one of the lowest divorce rates in the country in 2017. From 1990 to 2017, Illinois’ divorce rate decreased from 3.8 to 1.9 divorces per 1,000 people. The number of divorces may be decreasing, but the common reasons for divorce have essentially remained the same.

Infidelity

This is one of the most common reasons for divorce because a single action, or a series of them, can break down an entire marriage. Cheating on a spouse often begins as an innocent friendship and eventually transforms into a physical affair. Infidelity usually results in divorce because many couples see this as an act of betrayal that can never be forgotten.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerThe number of remarriages has been gradually increasing over the past few decades. As a result, blended families have become more prevalent than ever before. Blended families face unique challenges when it comes to estate planning. If you are a part of a blended family or are remarried, read on to learn how estate planning can put you in control of your and your family’s future.

When a Relative Dies Without a Will

Although it can be a hard topic to discuss, it is crucial that blended families talk about estate planning together. Family arguments and other issues can arise when parents pass away without a will or trust to dictate how their property should be divided between children of different marriages. When someone dies without any estate plans, surviving family members are left to figure out inheritance dilemmas in probate court. This can be an incredible burden for a family to shoulder. Creating inheritance and estate plans now can give you peace of mind and a sense of control knowing that your family will not be forced to sort out your final affairs during an already challenging time.

Remarried Spouses Can Leave Assets to New Spouse as Well as Children

It is not uncommon for a parent to remarry later in life. Remarried couples may have children from previous marriages who they wish to ultimately leave their property to. However, a person who is remarried may also want to ensure that his or her new spouse will be financially secure if an unexpected death or incapacitation occurs. Through a comprehensive estate plan, you can decide exactly which family members will receive property and when they should receive it. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you find legal avenues to create a unique estate plan that meets you and your family’s specific needs.

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DuPage County Child Support Lawyer

Child support payments are among the most important elements that must be determined for most couples as they begin the divorce process. While many people associate child support with divorce, parents who share a child but are not legally married may seek or be required to pay child support.

Although child support payments are typically determined through the court, some families decide to settle their payments through a mutual agreement. According to 2016 data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, 89.9 percent of custodial single parents have formal agreements through the court, which means only a small percentage of parents maintain an informal agreement. 

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Posted on in Estate Planning

DuPage County estate planning attorneyWhether you have never written a will or you are decades into maintaining a comprehensive estate plan, everyone should be on the lookout for a new type of scam artist: the estate planning scammer. The complex nature of estate planning has given unscrupulous individuals an opportunity to scam money out of innocent victims.

Facing your own mortality when planning for your family’s future can be overwhelming and emotional. Sadly, it is this emotional vulnerability which scammers use to trick people into ineffective and unnecessarily expensive estate plan “assistance”. If you are planning to draft a will or other estate planning document, make sure to avoid taking legal advice from unqualified or untrustworthy individuals. A licensed estate planning attorney can help ensure that your estate plans are sound and legally binding.

Understand What You Need and What You Do Not Need

Everyone should have an estate plan of some kind. Many people make the mistake of thinking that only the wealthy or those with children need a will or other estate plan. Most people own items of value (whether financial or personal value) that they wish to pass on to loved ones after they die. Estate planning allows you to guarantee that your property ends up where you want it to be after you pass away. Estate plans can also include decisions about final arrangements. Making decisions like these in advance saves your surviving family and friends the burden of guessing what you would have wanted. If you have minor children, creating an estate plan allows you to choose a guardian to care for your children if you pass away before they reach adulthood. Individuals with greater or more complex assets will require more complex estate plans that those without much property.

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Posted on in Adoption

Lombard, IL Adoption LawyerAdoption is a popular option for many couples and individuals who wish to start a family. More than 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Although it is often said parents who adopt are saving the child’s life, adoption significantly benefits the lives of parents as well. Adoptions vary, including the processes involved. Here is a look at the different types of adoptions so you can determine which is best for you. Whichever method you choose, adoption is a legal process, and you want a skilled adoption lawyer to help you throughout.

Domestic Adoption

These adoptions are those completed entirely within the U.S. There are two ways in which a domestic adoption can be completed: through an agency or private adoption. Agencies facilitate the adoption process and connect prospective parents with potential adoptees. Independent adoptions are often the choice of couples who already know the birth mother or family. 

Foster Care Adoption

A child being adopted within the foster care system has had their biological parents’ rights relinquished by the court. Most foster care system adoptions are completed by the child’s foster parents. These are individuals who have already cared for the child for an extended period of time. Those in foster care are often placed due to neglect, physical abuse, substance abuse, etc. 

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Lombard estate planning attorneysIf you have aging parents, you have probably already noticed a certain amount of role reversal. As children grow to adults and parents get older, it sometimes becomes the child’s job to help his or her parents manage life’s challenges. If you have worried that your parents do not have adequate estate plans in place but are unsure of how to broach the subject, experts have some tips to help.

The Risk of Dying Without a Will

Although they are arguably one of the most important documents a person could write, many people pass away without ever having written a will. When the world famous singer Aretha Franklin died last year at age 76, she had no will or trust to direct how her assets should be handled. Her lawyer explains that he encouraged her to draft a will or trust for years, but she never did. Her four children must now endure a public probate process which could take years. Passing away without a will leaves private decisions up to strangers and impersonal state laws. It can also have a negative financial impact on the decedent’s estate and his or her surviving family.

Start with the “Why” of Estate Planning

When you bring up the idea of creating an estate plan to your parents, make sure they understand why is it so important to have a will. Encouraging your aging parents to draft a trust or will is not about trying to gain more of their money. It is about honoring their final wishes and not leaving important decisions up to strangers. If you have friends whose parents died without an estate plan, you may be able to use their struggle through probate as an example of the turmoil that can result from failure to plan. Remind parents that estate planning allows them to govern who is in charge of their money, designate beneficiaries, ensure their final wishes are fulfilled, and minimize estate taxes.

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Lombard, IL Divorce Attorney

The annual military divorce rate is not as high as many people believe. The divorce rate has remained at 3 percent over the last four years. Numerically speaking, 21,290 of 689,060 married troops divorced in 2017. 

The legal issues surrounding military marriage and divorce can be difficult to understand, as military law is different than civilian law. Over the past few years, many changes have been made regarding military pension and its division with divorcees. 

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Posted on in Children

b2ap3_thumbnail_child-abuse-signs_20190130-181753_1.jpgA parent’s worst nightmare is their child being hurt in any way. This includes various forms of abuse such as physical, sexual, or emotional. It can be difficult to detect or prove that your child is being abused, especially if you believe the abuser is your child’s other parent. Here we will discuss signs of potential abuse and what you can do to protect your child.

Detecting Child Abuse

Knowing whether your child is suffering from abuse can be very difficult, especially since the accusation is so severe. Many children will not open up about the situation out of fear of their abuser, or they have built a mental block to protect themselves. Physical evidence can also be hard to use as proof. A couple of bruises are usually not enough evidence since children often get bruises playing with their friends. While it can be difficult to prove abuse based solely on suspicion, a combination of signs can provide enough evidence to be sure your child is being abused.

Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Bruises, welts, or cuts that the child has no explanation for;
  • Injury marks with a pattern from an object, such as a belt;
  • Avoiding physical contact; and
  • Consistent wearing of long-sleeve or baggy clothing to cover marks.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Constantly worrying about doing something wrong;
  • Depression and low self-esteem; and
  • Distancing from close friends or family members.

How to Help Your Child

Discovering your child is a victim of abuse is devastating and infuriating to any parent, which can result in a myriad of reactions, some good and some bad. If your child tells you they are experiencing abuse, it is important to remain calm and process what they have disclosed to you. It can be difficult to refrain from interrogating your child about every detail of the abuse, but this forced discussion can lead them to relive the abuse and scare them from telling you anything more. It is crucial to reassure your child they did nothing wrong. Many victims, especially children, will blame themselves for the abuse. Once you have comforted your child, contact the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services for assistance.

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will-estate-planning-probate-law.jpgThere are many misunderstandings about wills and estate planning in general. People incorrectly assume that they do not need to worry about estate planning until they have retired or that only the rich need a last will and testament. The reality is that having a will is beneficial to people of all ages and lifestyles. Passing away without a will means that strangers will decide how your property and wealth is managed and distributed to heirs instead of you. Although it can be difficult to make decisions about what will happen after you die, creating an estate plan put you in control of the assets you worked so hard to earn. The following are the most compelling reasons to stop procrastinating and get started on your will today.

Choosing a Guardian for Children if You Pass Away

If you are a parent of minor children, have you ever considered what would happen to your children if you passed away suddenly? Even a family with two parents can be struck by an unexpected tragedy which leaves the children parentless. A will allows you to name a legal guardian or guardians for your children if the worst happens. Parents who pass away and did not name a legal guardian for their children leave that decision up the court.

Determining How Your Assets Are Divided

Creating a last will and testament allows you to choose how your property and assets are divided among heirs. How your estate is distributed should be a personal decision – not one decided by strangers or impersonal state laws. If you do not create a will, when you pass away, your property and debt will be distributed according to Illinois law. This could mean that loved ones will not receive the inheritance you intended for them to receive and other heirs may be given these assets instead.

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DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

Abuse comes in various forms, and unfortunately, many people experience some form of abuse in a romantic relationship. The three most common forms of abuse are physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. While the definitions of physical and sexual abuse are fairly clear, emotional abuse can be difficult to detect.

Emotional abuse is classified as using a person’s emotions against them as a weapon of control. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly half of women and men have experienced psychologically aggressive behavior by an intimate partner. Emotional abuse may not be easy to recognize, but it is one of the most common forms of abuse that occurs between partners and often leads to divorce.

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DuPage County estate planning attorneysWhen creating your estate plan, it is vital to choose the right person to be your power of attorney, or agent. Powers of attorney have a tremendous amount of responsibility when it comes to estate planning, so choosing a representative who is accountable and trustworthy is imperative. A power of attorney document allows you to authorize someone to act on your behalf if you cannot do so due to illness or other incapacitation. The authority given to a power of attorney is largely dependent upon the document’s language. For help drafting a power of attorney document or for other estate planning assistance, contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

Types of Powers of Attorney

A non-durable power of attorney is designed to provide only a temporary solution. This document can be custom-made to authorize your agent to complete specific transaction. For example, you could give authorization to another person to sign a document that requires your signature if you are unable to do so yourself for some reason. A non-durable power of attorney terminates when you lose the mental capacity. Alternatively, a durable power of attorney is a more permanent solution which stays in effect even if you become incapacitated and cannot manage your own financial affairs. Both types of power of attorney can be designed to give your agent the level of authority you feel comfortable with.

The two types of powers of attorney listed above apply to matters involving property. By comparison, a health care power of attorney gives your agent the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so.

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