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Interested parties and contesting wills

Identifying interested parties is a very important consideration in probate litigation in Illinois. The party who starts the contestation of a will may be surprised to discover that the number of interested parties may be significantly higher than initially thought. This is because interested parties are not limited to the parties that are listed in the last will and testament.

When a will is being contested, the family members of the decedent can be either actual parties or interested parties, even if they are not listed as beneficiaries in the last will and treatment. All of the surviving family members, as well as the parties who are listed in the last will and testament that has been filed for probate, are considered interested parties who have the right to participate in the litigation.

Bankruptcy filings may be down for multiple reasons

In September 2010, there were about 1.6 million bankruptcy petitions filed throughout the country. Eight years later, that number had gone down to over 770,000 cases. However, the number of bankruptcy cases was down in Illinois and across the U.S. for a variety of reasons that individuals may not have expected. One theory is that people have fewer assets to protect compared to several years ago. Therefore, they are less likely to file for protection from creditors.

Another theory suggests that it is too expensive for most to file for bankruptcy. One attorney says that she charges $1,500 to handle a Chapter 7 case, and there may another $350 in court costs and other fees. Those who file a Chapter 13 case can expect to pay up to $3,200. It is also possible that there are more bankruptcy filings to come in the future as the economy continues to improve.

Weighing both sides of Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Although we are only a few weeks into the new year, you may already be seeing the futility in keeping your resolution to get out of debt. Like many in Illinois and across the country, the pressure of overwhelming debt may be too much to bear. You may be experiencing many sleepless nights, and even your physical health may be suffering.

Filing for debt relief through bankruptcy is an option you may be considering. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is one way to wipe out much of your debt and start over with a clean slate. For many, taking this step allows them to begin immediately to rebuild their credit while learning important skills to manage their money. However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy also has its disadvantages, and it is important to have a complete understanding of the process before deciding to take this step.

The pros and cons of LLCs

One of the most important decisions that business owners in Illinois and elsewhere have to consider is how to structure their companies. For some businesses, a limited liability company will be the most effective one. The LLC itself is a cross between a sole proprietorship and a corporation. It is considered its own entity separate from the owner of the business. However, it retains the benefits that can be derived from pass-through taxation.

With pass-through taxation, a company owner will account for any profits or losses on his or her personal tax return. Therefore, there is no need to file a corporate tax return and deal with the possibility of being taxed twice. Those who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States may prefer the LLC structure as there are no residency requirements to own one.

What to do about pensions and 401(k)s in divorce

For Illinois couples who are getting divorced, dividing up a pension plan or 401(k) must be done carefully in order to avoid expensive mistakes. First, it's necessary to have a document called a qualified domestic relations order for each account that must be divided.

The QDRO has to set the parameters for dividing the account. Those parameters must be the same as in the divorce agreement, and the QDRO has to be accepted by the plan administrator. The terms of division should be set out in percentages instead of dollar amounts in case there is fluctuation in the value of the account. Furthermore, the QDRO has to state how the distribution will be made. Divorce is a qualifying event that allows an early withdrawal before the age of 59 1/2 without a penalty, but if the distribution is not rolled into an IRA, the recipient will be taxed on the funds.

Liabilities, as well as assets, must be divided in divorce

Epic divorce battles are fought over which spouse gets the Illinois family home, retirement account, favorite car, or any number of expensive or personally treasured objects of value. And although it is never a good idea and sometimes can be damaging, the kids all too often become the pawns in child custody and child support matters. However, how liabilities are apportioned between the divorcing couple is just as important as each begins their new life.

Most people factor in secured debt, such as a home mortgage, when dividing assets. For example, if one spouse gets the family home, it is understood the actual value of the asset is the market value of the house minus the amount owed on the mortgage. Financial experts caution that credit card debt must be assessed and handled similarly. And this is true both for existing amounts owed as well as potential future debt.

How divorced parents can help children adjust to holidays

The holidays can be a tough time for parents and children in Illinois following a separation or divorce. Both may be feeling many different emotions, such as anger, loss, betrayal, sadness and fear. Parents must deal with these emotions in a way that does not impact on their children's holiday. The focus at this time needs to be on helping children adjust to the changes and still enjoy a happy holiday season.

This does not mean parents should ignore their emotions, but they may need to talk to a professional, such as a therapist or counselor, or friends and family about the situation. Parents might be tempted to try to keep the children away from the other parent if they are angry about the divorce, but this can be harmful for children. The aim should be to encourage the child to enjoy time with the other parent.

The potential benefits of partnering with angel investors

Small business owners in Illinois and elsewhere in the United States are typically on the lookout for capital. Working with an angel investor may be an ideal way to get the money they need without having to turn to venture capitalists. This type of investor may be a friend or family member who has sufficient money to back a new venture. In some cases, angels work in groups as opposed to on an individual basis.

The typical angel investor is between the ages of 40 and 60, and this person likely has experience as an entrepreneur or experience running a company in general. The SEC says that an angel investor is someone who has a net worth of at least $1 million and makes at least $200,000 a year. Those who are married must make $300,000 per year. The rule is put in place to ensure that individuals don't put money that they can't afford to lose into a potentially risky venture.

Is your will up to date?

Making the decision to write a will was a courageous move. After all, writing a will meant you had to take the time to consider your own mortality and dwell for a time on how life will go on after you are gone. It was likely difficult, and that is one reason why so many people postpone the task until it is too late.

However, your family will likely be grateful for your efforts since your will may save them many questions and frustrations after you pass away. Unfortunately, your work is not over. As difficult as it may have been to draft your will in the first place, it is important that you revisit it from time to time to ensure it is still relevant. Failing to update your will at key moments in your life may leave your family with a useless document.

How to avoid common financial mistakes of divorce

People in Illinois who are getting a divorce should make sure they avoid common financial errors. For example, it is important to take taxes into account when dividing some assets. A document called a qualified domestic relations order is necessary when dividing a 401(k), and a distribution must then be rolled into an IRA. This prevents taxes and penalties. People should also be aware that if they sell some assets to pay bills, there could be taxes on the sale.

However, there will no longer be taxes on alimony for people who receive it, and alimony will not be tax-deductible for people who pay it in divorces that are finalized starting in 2019. This could result in less money for both people. People who expect to pay alimony should not quit their job in order to avoid it as this will only lead to more financial problems over time.

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Rockford, IL 61108

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