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Frankfort Law Blog

Why you need to create a living will for your estate plan

The desire to get an unsavory task over with quickly can sometimes lead people to cut corners. That may not be the most pressing concern when scooping your cat litter, but when it comes to planning your estate or last will in Illinois, shortcuts can be a mistake that haunt your family for years to come.

You don't want to rush through and get things done as quickly as possible. Instead, you want the estate plan that you create to be as accurate and thorough as possible for your unique situation. In addition to the creation of a last will that outlines your asset allocation preferences, you should take steps to create a living will that protects you in the event of a severe illness or injury.

Estate planning is not just for wealthy people

Although formulating an estate plan is becoming more common for Illinois residents, there is still a perception that only those who are of significant means need to have one. This is a mistake that can be costly in multiple ways. Not only does it hinder attempts to preserve assets, but it can have tax implications, spark family disputes and cause other problems that are avoidable. Having a basic estate plan is critical and there are several reasons for these that people might not have considered.

Probate is the process in which the person who took out an estate plan - the testator - has his or her will "proved" to be valid. While probate is often necessary, it can be costly and time consuming. It is also public so there is a lack of privacy. If there is a desire on the part of the testator to avoid probate, it is vital to have legal help in determining how to do that. It can be achieved by having a trust instead of a will.

Farmers could get debt relief from bankruptcy changes

For Indiana farmers who are negatively impacted by the struggling economy, the term "bankruptcy" might not be viewed as an alternative for them. Most people classify bankruptcy as a step to get out of personal debt through a Chapter 7 liquidation or a Chapter 13 payment plan. Even businesses will use Chapter 11 to reorganize. Farmers are often reluctant to use these chapters. It is important to remember that there is another option for farmers - Chapter 12 - and given the current problems experienced by farmers in the U.S., congress is considering a reform of Chapter 12 to benefit farmers. This can be important to get back on stronger financial ground and save a farm.

With the proposed changes, Chapter 12 would increase the debt limits that those filing can use. Currently, it is around $4.1 million. The new law would raise it to $10 million. The initial proposal did not pass, however there is a plan to reintroduce it. Family farmers have been having struggles in recent years and there was an accompanying rise in the number of Chapter 12 bankruptcies. With the debt limit on Chapter 12, this has prevented those with larger farms to file and has thereby increased the danger of losing their farms.

A complete estate plan can avoid family struggles after death

End of life planning is not an easy matter for Illinois residents to come to grips with. This is true for people at any age. However, failing to have a comprehensive estate plan can cause problems after death. Family disputes, legal battles and more can come about if there is a hesitation or reluctance in drafting estate planning documents. Often, a main sticking point in drafting these documents is that the person - the testator - does not know what he or she needs. It is important to have legal advice that can tailor the estate plan to every individual's situation.

According to research, only 42 percent of Americans have created an estate plan. Thirty-six percent of those with children under the age of 18 have done so. When there is no will, the state will decide how assets will be distributed and what happens to minor children. With these facts, there are various methods to be protected including: having a will, thinking about protective documents like a living will or power of attorney, considering a trust, making sure the wishes are known and assessing who the beneficiaries should be.

What if a parent owing child or spousal support is unemployed?

For Illinois parents, one of the most important obligations they have after a divorce is to pay the child support or spousal support they owe. For the receiving parent, the payments are needed for upkeep and necessities. For various reasons, there are sometimes problems keeping up with the payments. One is if the parent who owes support is unemployed. This is a difficult circumstance, but the law addresses it directly. For the parent who is confronted with this issue and the parent who is supposed to be receiving the support payments, it is important to understand how this will be handled.

If there is a proceeding for an enforcement of support and the person who owes is unemployed, the court can order the person to look for employment and maintain a diary, a listing or another document that details the efforts he or she is making to get a job based on the order. The court can also order the person to go to the Department of Employment Security to take part in a job search. A program for job training to help with the work progress can also be ordered.

Child custody: Plan for when children manipulate parents

Children often fight back against what their parents say is best for them. Testing the boundaries is a normal part of being a kid. When their parents are divorced, there is a chance that they will take this to another level. They might try to play one parent against the other in an attempt to get their way.

Both parents have to combat this. Be vigilant about watching for signs, such as the kids running to one parent when they want to do things or trying to keep you from speaking to each other. Regardless of what is going on with the kids, they need to know that this is unacceptable behavior.

After individual bankruptcy, can the discharge be revoked?

Financial challenges can impact people across the spectrum in Indiana. Those who seemingly have great jobs and are financially secure can be hurt by debt just as easily as people who have been caught up in the struggling economy. There can be medical crises, job loss and mistakes made with credit and purchases that contribute to the financial turmoil. One strategy that is perfectly legal and has helped many on the way back to financial health is filing for bankruptcy.

While it might seem to be a relief to finally get a discharge, there are circumstances in which the discharge can be revoked. Understanding how to prevent a revocation or what to do if there is an attempt to revoke the discharge is key to a case. There are situations in which the discharge can be revoked. If the creditor or a trustee asks that there be a revocation in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it might be because the discharge was gotten through fraud.

Should I fight my premarital agreement in a divorce dispute?

In many marriages in Illinois, the couple will have a premarital agreement - also referred to as a prenuptial agreement - before they get married. This is true in a high asset situation or one of more modest means. It is a protective device in the event of a divorce. Unfortunately, many marriages do end in divorce and the premarital agreement comes to the forefront. Often, however, many spouses who signed the agreement would like to have it declared null and void. Knowing when this is possible is critical in any dispute. When confronted with these difficult family law issues, legal help is essential.

The premarital agreement can address various issues, including property division, selling property, and how property will be dispensed when the couple separates and divorces. It will also cover spousal support, estate planning, which laws will govern the agreement, and other issues. Child support is not included in a premarital agreement. When the premarital agreement is amended after the marriage, it requires the signatures of both parties. Enforcement is one of the most important factors in the premarital agreement and, if the agreement is unenforceable, this can be a key factor in the case.

Do you need to change how much child or spousal support you pay?

Divorce often has a lasting financial impact on those who use it to end their marriages. One of the most significant financial consequences of divorce is the requirement to pay either child support or spousal support, formerly referred to as alimony. When you have to pay support to your children or your ex, you lose a significant portion of each paycheck.

While it is a legal obligation to fulfill court orders that require you to pay support to an ex or your children, that doesn't mean you cannot have those obligations adjusted. Securing a support modification is often in the best interest of those paying support when they find themselves unable to continue making payments as ordered by the courts.

Bankruptcy could solve financial challenges in Indiana

Indiana residents who are confronted with financial challenges can find themselves in that circumstance for many reasons. These include medical debt, job loss, overspending on credit cards, marital problems and more. On top of the bills, creditor harassment is a never-ending cycle of phone calls, letters and messages that can multiply the stress a person's feels and will impact them negatively. Regardless of how a person got into the situation, it is important to know that they are not trapped and there are alternatives to get on stronger financial footing. Bankruptcy is one way to do that.

While many people might have a negative perception of bankruptcy, it is wise to understand the facts before dismissing it. The idea that a person is ignoring his or her responsibilities or committing an unethical act is misplaced. Bankruptcy is perfectly legal whether it is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Before moving forward, the circumstances will determine which is preferable to that individual.

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