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In our last post, we introduced and discussed the concept of undue influence in creating a will. It can be difficult to prove undue influence – even the Supreme Court of the United States has said that what constitutes undue influence depends on the individual circumstances of each case. When someone believes their loved one may have been under undue influence when creating a will, one way to show the will is invalid is to prove that there was a formal legal relationship between the testator and the other party, called a fiduciary duty. This can be a…
Making the decision to get a divorce is difficult and complex and should never be made lightly. In addition to the impact on any children, you will need to consider the impact of a divorce on your property and finances. Divorce is never easy, but in order to make it smooth as possible, you should also ensure that your personal interests are understood, respected, and represented. Making the wrong choice of a divorce attorney can be costly in terms of time and money. As you begin the process of choosing a divorce attorney, here are a few tips to help…
Undue influence is the most common justification in Illinois when someone wants to contest the validity of a will. But what is undue influence? And if you suspect someone is trying to wield undue influence over your loved one during the creation of their will, what can you do about it? We will explore the concept of undue influence in a short series of blog posts, explaining what undue influence is and how it is treated under Illinois law. Undue influence is when the person for whom the will is written (the testator) has their wishes wrongfully manipulated and…
For people of any age, estate planning allows them to make decisions about what will happen in the future. In many cases, the focus of an estate plan will be on what happens after a person’s death, and this will be covered in part by their last will and testament, which is commonly referred to as a will. However, multiple types of estate planning documents, including a living will, can also be used to address how issues such as medical care will be handled throughout the remainder of a person’s life. By understanding the differences between wills and…
If you are getting divorced, you may have questions about alimony. In Illinois, alimony is called spousal maintenance or support. Alimony is financial assistance that a spouse pays to the other spouse after a divorce. In some cases, spouses agree on the amount and duration of alimony before they get divorced through a prenuptial agreement or separation agreement. In other cases, spouses negotiate a spousal maintenance agreement during the divorce process. When the couple cannot agree, the court will determine spousal maintenance issues on the spouses’ behalf. Who Gets Spousal Support? Spousal maintenance is typically used to reduce the…
Domestic violence and abuse affect the lives of millions of individuals each year in the U.S. It is estimated that 125,000 children a year are neglected or abused in Illinois. While these statistics are shocking and child abuse is a very real concern in Illinois, not every accusation of abuse is founded on truth. Misunderstandings, discipline, or exaggerated stories may lead to accusations of abuse. Some individuals even fabricate stories of abuse to gain an advantage in child custody proceedings. If you were accused of child abuse, it is important to know your rights as well as what to…
Whether it was several months or years ago that your current order on parenting time was entered by a family law court, you probably recall some of the general legal concepts. Illinois’ statute on allocation of parental responsibilities covers both decision-making on important issues involved with raising the child AND the parenting schedule. The former terms of custody and visitation may no longer be used, but the underlying legal issues remain the same. Another notion that has not changed is that the court’s parenting plan order is legally binding. Even by agreement, co-parents cannot alter the provisions without court approval.…
With just one glance at the hundreds of statutory provisions in the Illinois Probate Act, you can tell that the estate administration process can be overwhelming and complex. Unfortunately, it is usually necessary for most estates to go through probate. The timeline varies widely based upon the circumstances of the case, but the proceedings can take several months to more than a year. It can be disheartening to think about the time and cost involved, and you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to avoid the probate process. The good news is that there are multiple…
If you are contemplating or currently going through a divorce in Illinois, you probably have a whole team of friends and family willing to help get you through tough times. Unfortunately, when this assistance comes in the form of legal advice on property division in divorce, misconceptions abound. You may hear that a “friend of a friend” recently got everything in a dissolution of marriage case, while someone else might relate how their cousin lost it all. It can be difficult to separate valid, credible details from conjecture. One of your first priorities, when confounded by misconceptions, is to reach…
No matter what your age, a will can offer numerous benefits as part of a comprehensive estate plan. As the AARP notes, your will serves as a roadmap for stating your intentions, distributing your possessions to beneficiaries, and wrapping up your final affairs. With a will, you maintain control over your assets instead of being subject to Illinois intestacy laws and reduce the potential for disputes among surviving loved ones, saving time and money in the estate administration process. What you may not know is there are a few objectives you cannot accomplish by creating a will. This can…
If you have already created a will, you should be happy to count yourself among the majority of Americans in certain age groups who have done so as well. According to AARP, almost 70 percent of individuals aged 65 years and older have prepared a will, as have just under 60 percent of people ranging from 50 to 64 years old. Like you, these testators appreciate having more control over their final affairs and the Illinois estate administration process, as well as knowing their assets are better prepared to make it to the hands of their intended beneficiaries. However,…
For anyone walking down the aisle anytime soon, some data regarding divorce should be encouraging in terms of the future of your relationship: The Institute for Family Studies (IFS) reports that divorces have been steadily decreasing in the U.S. over the last few decades, hitting a record low of 14.9 divorces for every 1,000 marriages in 2019. This is the biggest drop in more than 50 years, surpassing the rate of 15 divorces per 1,000 marriages in 1970. Even better news is that the duration of current marriages increased by one year over the period from 2010 to 2019. These…
If you are considering ways to provide for a loved one with special needs, you have probably discovered the inherent conflict with giving money directly: Any funds you contribute could make this individual ineligible for benefits under the Social Security SSI program, Medicaid, and other forms of public assistance. Your heart may be in the right place, but you could be doing more harm than good when it comes to qualifying for needs-based programs that focus on income and assets. With this information in mind, you may have also come across special needs trusts when researching ways to provide…
If what you know about paternity comes from daytime soap operas, TV dramas, or blockbuster films, there is a strong possibility that you do not have a clear picture of how the laws work in Illinois. You probably understand the fundamental principle under state statutes on parentage, which is that all children are entitled to the physical, mental, emotional, and monetary support of both parents. However, if parents were not married when the child was conceived and/or born, serious disputes can develop over these responsibilities. When you realize that there is a lot you do not know about paternity proceedings,…
In today’s world, it is becoming increasingly common for parents to have children while they are unmarried. However, this can lead to issues when it comes to establishing the paternity of that child. Establishing paternity is an important step in securing the same parental rights and responsibilities for the father of a child that are not automatically granted when parents are unmarried. Most of the time, paternity cases are aimed toward proving the paternity of a child, though in some cases, disproving the paternity of a child can be just as important. The easiest way to deny the paternity of…
One of the main goals of estate planning is to ensure that your wishes regarding your assets and property are carried out after your death. Of course, a qualified estate planning attorney is equipped to help you prepare the necessary documents and instruments to make the process relatively simple for you. For many of our clients, however, the real challenge is determining exactly what their wishes are. It can be difficult to decide who is to receive what portion of your estate, and while an attorney cannot tell you how to choose your beneficiaries when drafting your will, we…