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Recent Blog Posts

What are Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions?

 Posted on September 07, 2021 in Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation bankruptcy process. There are different Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions that can protect some of the filing party's property from the process of selling property to repay creditors. Those interested in Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection should be familiar with what the Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions are.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions

There are several categories of Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions including:

  • Homestead exemption – the homestead exemption allows the filing party to protect equity in their home. A consumer filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection can exempt up to $15,000 in equity in their home from the bankruptcy process. The amount of equity they can protect goes up if the filing party is a married couple filing for bankruptcy jointly.
  • Wage exemption – filing parties can exempt a certain percentage of their wages.

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What if I have a child after executing my will in Illinois?

 Posted on August 24, 2021 in Uncategorized

It is a wise and responsible decision for Illinois residents to have an estate plan. Even if it is a barebones will that details how the person's property will be distributed at the time of death, it is a key document to have. This is true for people of any age. For some, however, there are life changes that arise after they have completed a will. That might include getting married, divorced and having children. For those who have completed a will and have a child after it has been executed, there are certain legal facts to know.

Understanding how having a child impacts a completed will

For the testator, the contents will not be relevant for the child except in certain circumstances. If, for example, the child is left out of the will because it was not updated to reflect the birth, he or she will still be entitled to get the portion of the estate upon the testator's death. It will be the same amount as if the testator had died intestate (without having completed a will). The share the child will receive depends on the rest of the family. For example, there might be a spouse and other children who will be entitled to portions of the estate. A different issue is if the testator intended to leave the child out of the will. Disinheriting the child would need to be addressed in the will.

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How does Chapter 13 bankruptcy work?

 Posted on August 05, 2021 in Bankruptcy

There are many unexpected events that occur throughout people's lives in Illinois. Some of these unexpected events can be pleasant surprises and benefit people. This is not always true though. Some of the unexpected events can create hardships for people. It could be a car breaking down or appliances breaking down. People may be involved in an accident and suffered injuries or developed an illness or disease. They may have close family members suffer sever injuries and illnesses that require extra care or many other types of unexpected events.

The unexpected events that cause hardships also tend to be costly financially as well. It cost money to repair or replace things that break down. When people suffer injuries or illnesses people may incur medical bills which can add up quickly. If they lose a job, they lose income. When people incur these extra expenses, it can cause them to fall behind on monthly obligations and people may need to turn to credit cards to keep up and before they know it they may be overwhelmed with debt.

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What does it mean to liquidate my assets?

 Posted on July 23, 2021 in Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy can be overwhelming, particularly when an Illinois resident does not understand the process. They may hear terms related to bankruptcy and experience confusion when they attempt to understand what it all means. Readers should understand that the information contained in this post does not provide any legal advice and the best answers that they can get to their bankruptcy questions may come from bankruptcy attorneys.

However, one important concept that readers can learn about before filing for bankruptcy is liquidation. This post will only touch on the topic and further inquiry is encouraged for those who are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Selling off property to satisfy creditors

Chapter 7 bankruptcy's liquidation provisions are premised off the idea that those who use Chapter 7 bankruptcy do not have disposable income to use to pay off their debts. Unlike Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which reorganizes an individual's income so that they may pay down their debts, Chapter 7 bankruptcy presumes that a debtor has no extra money with which to use to reduce their outstanding financial obligations.

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When is a good time to estate plan for business owners?

 Posted on July 09, 2021 in Uncategorized

The old adage of the only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes continue to be as true today as it ever was before. And, the realities of death have never been more acute than they have been in recent memory. This is why we often get questions from business owners about the best timing for estate planning.

When is the best time to estate plan for business owners?

Now! We never know how many days we have left on Earth. That is simply a fac of life. But, think about the effect the sudden loss of an owner or even a key employee, who knows all the ins and outs of a business. Think about the chaos that loss will invite. And, think about the family that is left behind to fight over that business. Would it survive? Would those family relationships survive? This is why estate planning, or more accurately, transition planning, is so important for business owners.

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Three steps to take after you have executed your estate plan

 Posted on June 25, 2021 in Uncategorized

You may have executed what you believe is a comprehensive estate plan including a will, living trust, power of attorney, advance medical directive and other important documents. But just having an estate plan is not the end of the story. There are additional steps to take to ensure your final wishes are carried out.

Communicate your intentions to your loved ones

If your loved ones do not know of your estate plan it can cause delays when it comes to carrying it out or it can lead to the mismanagement of assets. It is important to educate your loved ones about the contents of your estate plan as well as your intentions. This can avoid unwanted surprises upon your passing. Sudden wealth can lead to bad decisions, so if your heirs know well in advance what they are to inherit they can make plans to handle this windfall wisely.

Anticipate drama

Many times, families have hidden conflicts with one another that simmer below the surface while you are still alive. Your death can bring these conflicts to light, especially if one family member believes your will should not be enforced because it was made under coercion, undue influence or if they believe you were not of sound mind when the estate plan was executed. Assuming the kids will figure it out may not be the best choice. Again, education is key.

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Many families in the U.S. struggle with medical debt

 Posted on June 14, 2021 in Bankruptcy

The year 2020 was a tough economic time for many in Geneva, especially if they were furloughed or lost their jobs. This financial predicament was only escalated when they acquired a significant amount of medical debt that they have no means of paying back. They are not alone. According to U.S. Census Bureau data many families have problems with medical debt.

What is considered medical debt?

In 2017, 19% of households in the U.S. had some type of medical debt. Medical debt was defined as costs people could not pay up front or when they were treated. Of households carrying medical debt in 2017, the median amount of medical debt was $2,000. When households had significant medical debt, they may not have been able to afford the essentials such as food, utilities or their rent or mortgage. Moreover, medical debt forced some families to forgo necessary medical care because they could not afford it. Some people even filed for bankruptcy due to unmanageable medical debt.

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Young parents: your children trust their future to you

 Posted on May 28, 2021 in Uncategorized

Parents experience indescribable and immeasurable joy as their children grow. They shudder at the thought of life without their kids – or of their children's life without them. No wonder, then, that only 36% of parents with minor children have written a last will and testament. In the absence of that legal document, though, a minor child could confront emotional and financial uncertainty.

Intestacy means only the law matters

When one dies without a will, or intestate, state law determines much of a child's future. Illinois, for example, distributes intestate assets per stirpes, which roughly means equally. Importantly, the number and type of other surviving kin will dictate what a child, or children, receives.

Naturally, young parents also could assume a family member will care for their children – but without a will, the courts will play an active role in that determination. A guardian will assume legal custody of the child should unforeseen events in either the parents' or the presumed caretaker's lives occur. In Illinois, guardianship and its cousin conservatorship require court approval.

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What are the benefits of a trust as part of an estate plan?

 Posted on May 18, 2021 in Uncategorized

Trusts are a potentially valuable part of estate plan to consider and to understand. For that reason, estate planners should be familiar with the benefits of including a trust in their estate and what they do.

Advantages of a trust

There are a variety of different potential advantages of a trust to be aware of including:

  • Placing conditions on how and when the estate planner's assets are distributed;
  • Reducing estate and gift taxes;
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries efficiently without the cost, delay and publicity of the probate court. Probate can cost between 5% to 7% of the estate planner's estate and may be costly and time consuming;
  • Better protecting the estate planner's assets from creditors and lawsuits; and
  • Naming a successor trustee who will manage the trust after the estate planner passes and is also empowered to manage the trust assets if the estate planner becomes unable to do so.

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The basics about Chapter 7 bankruptcy

 Posted on May 03, 2021 in Bankruptcy

Many people in Illinois probably think of bankruptcy options as a “last resort” when it comes to financial problems. And, some will even think that there is “shame” involved in considering bankruptcy options. In many cases, these concerns may come from a lack of knowledge when it comes to the basics about the bankruptcy process, particularly Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy basics

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is, perhaps, the most common form of bankruptcy that individuals and families pursue. It is commonly known as “liquidation” bankruptcy. At its most basic, this form of bankruptcy allows an individual to list assets alongside debts, have the assets sold off by a bankruptcy trustee and then have the proceeds from those sales applied toward outstanding debt. In the end, any debt remaining is discharged and the filer has a “clean slate.”

Of course, there is more to it than that. For example, not all of your assets will be included in the bankruptcy case. Some assets are “exempt” from the bankruptcy process. And, another perk is that as soon as you file your bankruptcy case an “automatic stay” is implemented, which means that creditors can no longer harass you about your debt or missed payments.

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