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What is a "living will"?

Most individuals who live in northeastern Illinois and northern Indiana have heard about "living wills," but not everyone understands this legal term. A "will" is considered by many people to be a written document that directs the disposition of a deceased person's assets following that person's death. "Living wills," on the other hand, serve a different purpose: to express a person's wishes about end-of-life medical care and living circumstances. For this reason, these documents are often referred to as "end-of-life directives." Both Illinois and Indiana have enacted statutes that authorize living wills, but the two statutes differ only in detail.

In Illinois, a person may execute a "living will" directing that, if the person is suffering from a terminal condition and can no longer participate fully in decisions about medical care, no death-delaying procedures shall be used to extend person's life. As of the date of the execution of this document, the maker must possess a sound mind and be older than 18 years of age, the document must be signed by the maker or another person at the maker's direction. The statute specifically exempts any person who participates in the withholding of medical care from criminal liability or reprimand for unprofessional conduct.

Bankruptcy exemptions under Indiana state law

Any resident of Indiana who is contemplating filing a petition for bankruptcy should be aware of the effect of exemptions from the claims of creditors that are provided under state law. The Indiana legislature has identified certain kinds of assets that cannot be claimed by creditors. While these exemptions apply to all creditor-debtor relationships, they are most effective in an individual bankruptcy proceeding.

An asset that is listed as being exempt from the claims of creditors means that the debtor can retain possession of the asset after the bankruptcy proceeding has been completed. For example, the debtor may owe money on a loan used to purchase an automobile. If the loan payments are current and if the debtor's equity in the car is less than the limit on such an exemption, the debtor can continue to make payments on the debt and retain possession of the automobile after the court issues its order of discharge.

Financial challenges and debt a growing problem for adults

Indiana residents will frequently face financial challenges that leave them wondering how they will get on stronger footing. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including job loss, medical debt, overspending, divorce and more. Regardless of why it happened, it is imperative to remember that there are alternatives to find debt relief. Being in financial trouble does not need to dominate a person's life. Understanding that there may be ways to clear the debt - even if that means personal bankruptcy - is a key factor in taking that next step and getting help.

A recent report indicates that consumer debt is a rising problem for adults starting at age 18. Credit cards are the biggest problem, but other expenses are hindering their financial security too. The study was conducted by Northwestern Mutual. It says that these adults had significant personal debt nearly reaching $30,000. This is separate from mortgages. The average person is spending a third of their income to pay debt. Although the student loan crisis has been receiving the bulk of the attention, credit cards are a major concern, along with mortgages.

How does Illinois family law address a parenting plan agreement?

There is a perception that when couples in Illinois get a divorce, there will be a litany of family law issues in dispute and it can grow endlessly contentious. That is, unfortunately, true in many cases when couples are battling over property, custody of children, support and visitation rights. However, in some cases, the family legal issues are reasonably amicable and the parties can agree on most issues to facilitate a rapid end to the proceedings.

With children, they can agree on custody and a visitation plan. Still, even when there is an agreement on a parenting plan, there are legal considerations. Understanding and adhering to the law is imperative. For parents who have agreed on a parenting plan, they must have it in written form and sign it. They are then required to submit it to the court so it can be approved. This must be done within 120 days after there was a petition served to allocate parental responsibilities or when there was a filing of an appearance. If this is not done in that timeframe, there must be good cause as to why it was not.

Impacts of bankruptcy you should consider

One of the most challenging things that you think about when you are deep in debt is how you are going to manage to make at least the minimum payments. Some people come to realize that no matter how they adjust the budget, there isn't going to be enough money at the end of the month.

You can opt to keep making the minimum payments while continuing to accrue interest or you can choose to do something about the crippling debt. Filing for bankruptcy is one option, but make sure that you find out how it might impact you before you file.

Critical points about a power of attorney

When Illinois residents are thinking about their estate planning needs, they will generally focus on the basics, like wills and trusts. There are other aspects to an estate plan, but it is important to tailor the documents to the individual's needs. For those who are in a situation in which they might need a power of attorney, it is imperative to understand various critical points about such a document.

There is significant influence for the person who is granted power of attorney. When naming a person, he or she will be known as the "agent" or the "attorney-in-fact." That individual will make financial decisions in the person's stead. They control the assets in bank accounts and other financial vehicles in the person's name. When selecting a power of attorney, there are generally two options: a durable power of attorney or a springing power of attorney. Durable powers of attorney go into effect when they are signed and will remain as such while the person is incapacitated. The springing power of attorney is in effect once the person becomes incapacitated.

Use caution when sharing information about your divorce

The news of your divorce is something that certain individuals should hear straight from you. Close family members and your children, for example, shouldn't learn about the split from someone else. Be careful about what you tell people and when.

Even though you may not feel like it, talking to your ex about how you will let people know about the divorce can be beneficial. This is especially important when you are talking to family members and trying to navigate the relationships with both sides of the family after the divorce.

Might conciliation be ordered in an Illinois family law case?

Couples in Illinois who are planning to divorce might think that the case will be heard on that basis with the court allowing it to move forward, assessing the circumstances and making decisions based on the evidence. However, that is not always the case immediately. In some situations, the court will determine that the marriage can be salvaged. With that, there can be an order for the parties to take part in a court-ordered "conciliation" conference.

For couples who are planning a divorce or harbor a belief that there is a chance to save the marriage, it is important to understand the law in these cases. The court can decide on its own that the marriage can be saved and order the conciliation conference. This can also be done if one spouse requests that there be a conciliation conference. The conciliation conference and a counseling session will be held at a service location in that judicial district or another appropriate facility.

Comparing the benefits of wills and trusts

Illinois residents who want to make certain they are fully organized and that their loved ones are cared for after they have gone will take the necessary steps to have a comprehensive estate plan in place. While this is a good idea regardless of the circumstances, many people will be uncertain as to whether wills or trusts are better for them. There are many factors to consider when making that determination.

In general, a full estate plan might have a will and a trust, but it is vital to decide how a person's goals fit into the strategies. A fundamental and relatively simple method is to have the assets in the testator's name and distribute them to heirs with a will. Another choice is to have a revocable living trust that will own the assets, with the trust agreement stating how distribution will be done. With a will, the property will need to go through probate. Trusts avoid probate.

How does property division impact a pension in a divorce?

In a divorce in Illinois, property division might seem like a secondary issue when placed in the context of child support, spousal support, custody and visitation, but that does not diminish its importance. There are many parts of property division that will come to the forefront, including the marital home, motor vehicles, personal items that one spouse or another might want to retain and more. Pensions are also a key consideration. Understanding how pensions are addressed in family law with property division is critical to both the spouse who earned the pension and the spouse who believes he or she should get part of it.

With pension benefits, if it was acquired by the spouse during the marriage and prior to the divorce, legal separation or a marriage being declared invalid, it will be considered marital property. This is true if they were state benefits, from a defined benefit plan, a defined contribution plan or account, an IRA or a non-qualified plan. An important note about the pension plan and whether it will be subject to property division is the ability of one spouse to overcome the presumption that it is marital property.


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