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The world of estate planning can become quite overwhelming for many people. Not only does estate planning force you to confront your own mortality, there is also a vast array of estate planning instruments for you to choose from. It can be difficult to know for sure what types of estate planning tools and documents will best allow you to reach your personal and financial goals. Two of the most common types of estate planning instruments are a last will and testament and a trust. While these tools can achieve similar goals, there are several importance differences between a…
Minors are accustomed to having a legal guardian who makes large decisions for them. While they may have some say in the matter, the final decision is left to the older party. Unfortunately, some individuals must experience this more than once in their life. Older people or those with disabilities often have to allow a legal guardian to take on the “official” responsibility of legal decision-making. Being the party taking on the guardianship responsibility can be emotionally and physically taxing, but recognizing that your loved one needs help could save them from making irreparable legal decisions. Signs That Your Loved…
Child support laws vary from state to state, especially in situations where one spouse remarries. Illinois uses an income shares model to calculate how much each parent must contribute to child support. The parents’ combined net income and the number of children will determine their combined child support obligation. Then, each parent will pay a percentage of the obligation that is proportionate to their percentage of the combined incomes. For example, a parent who makes $70,000 of a $100,000 combined income would pay 70 percent of the child support obligation. The parent who has a majority of the parenting time…
It is no secret that adoption is expensive. Many families wish they could adopt but simply cannot afford the additional expenses that are tied to adoption. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, private agency adoptions can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000. This price tag does not include any of the costs associated with raising a child, which can steer couples hoping to start a family away from considering adoption. Foster care adoption is the most financially-friendly option available to potential parents. In many cases, the adoption gets funded by the state, with few fees involved aside from an attorney’s…
While many people assume estate planning only involves drafting a will or other estate planning document which dictates how assets are distributed upon an individual’s death, this is only one of many types of estate planning instruments which can benefit you. An advance directive, also referred to as a living will, medical directive, or advance decision, is a type of legal document which specifies how decisions should be made on behalf of an individual who is incapacitated by illness or injury. Read on to learn about how incapacity is defined for the purposes of these types of decisions in…
When a company reaches a certain level of success, the business owner will often turn the business into a franchise. Some of the most well-known brands in the world such as McDonald’s, Planet Fitness, and 7-Eleven are franchises. While there can be a certain level of risk in franchising your business, doing so is often the best way to spread your brand and make your business even more successful than it already is. Turning your business into a franchise is not a decision to take lightly, however. Read on to learn tips experts say will help you avoid pitfalls as…
Divorce mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that works for many couples seeking to end their marriage but wanting to skip the typical divorce proceedings. This type of alternative resolution becomes somewhat of a conversation between the spouses and a mediator. After the mediator explains the process, they will act as a neutral third-party. The session will typically last a few hours as a group, followed by the mediator meeting with each party individually to speak with them. This will allow the spouse to tell them anything they feel that they left out or any information that they felt…
Whether the allocation of parental responsibilities determinations are done by negotiating with your spouse or become a “battle” in front of a court, this portion of divorce is often the most difficult. Every parent wants the best for their children, and it can be difficult to figure out what is “best” when you and your spouse are accustomed to co-parenting under one roof. Parenting cases can get ugly even when divorcing couples are on amicable terms. Common Errors The determination of your parenting plan is an important part of the divorce process to prepare for. An experienced attorney should warn…
When you hear the phrase “estate planning,” you might think of extremely wealthy people meeting with their lawyers and accountants to create wills and trusts that will facilitate the transfer of assets from one generation to the next. However, there is much more to estate planning than just wills and trusts. More importantly, estate planning is not just for those with extensive assets or complicated investments. Every adult should have an estate plan of some sort in place as a measure of protection in the event of a tragedy. One estate planning tool that is often overlooked or…
If you have started the process of estate planning, there is a good chance that you have spent some time thinking about how you will distribute your assets among your children, grandchildren, loved ones, and, possibly, charitable organizations. Depending on the size of your family or your circle of friends, it could be quite easy to overlook the pets that might be an important part of your life. Is it possible to look after companion animals like dogs or cats in your estate plan? In short, the answer to that question is yes. What Are Pet Trusts? Under Illinois…
Most of us, at some point or another, have had those fleeting thoughts about a product or service that could serve as the foundation for a new business. On the other hand, maybe you have watched another company offer goods and services while knowing that you could do it better. So how does one go from the “idea” phase to the “action” phase of starting the actual business based on the idea? There are, of course, many steps, but the first important one is to determine whether or not the idea is truly marketable. What Is Your Idea? Not…
The benefits of proper estate planning cannot be overstated. Drafting a will, trust, or utilizing other estate planning documents puts you in charge of you and your family’s future in a way that nothing else can. Having a comprehensive estate plan also saves your loved ones the burden of making highly personal decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated or pass away. Many married couples, especially couples with children, recognize the importance of estate planning. However, there are some situations in which one spouse is interested in estate planning but the other spouse does not want to participate. If…
When most people think of summer, they imagine attending weddings and enjoying time spent with their families. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many couples. According to research conducted by University of Washington sociologists between 2001 and 2015, there is a biannual pattern for divorce. The months of March and August have been found to have high volumes of divorce. While it may seem like a coincidence, there are actually reasons for this spike in ending marriages.   Why the Divorce Pattern? All relationships are different thus making each divorce case unique. Despite the individuality of each couple, studies…
If you have started creating your own estate plans or you have recently lost a loved one, you may have heard the term “probate.” This term is used to refer to the legal proceedings which transfers a deceased individual’s assets to heirs. If the deceased person, or decedent, has signed a will before he or she died, the probate courts determine whether or not the will is enforceable and oversee the distribution of the decedents’ assets. If a decedent does not have a will or the will is not enforceable, the probate process is much more involved. Because…
Feeling the need to report child abuse is a serious and uncomfortable situation to encounter. Many people will ignore signs that may resemble abuse because they do not want to misinterpret what actually happened. Reports state that ⅔ of incidents of abuse go unreported, leaving most abused children in dangerous homes. While it can feel as if you are intruding on someone else’s business, reporting suspected abuse can save a child from a lifetime of trauma.   Types of Abuse Physical Abuse: This form of abuse is fairly self-explanatory and easier to spot than others. Any form of physical injury…
Every adult should have some type of estate plan in place. Even just a relatively simple will could provide a great deal of security and direction for surviving loved ones in the event of a tragedy. However, the reality is that more than half of Americans do not have an estate plan of any kind. While there may be many reasons for this, arguably the most common is procrastination. Most people realize that an estate plan is a good idea, but it is not always something that is a high priority. As a result, people tend to wait until they…