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Most people have no experience with wills or the probate process. As a result, if you've been named the executor of a will, you're likely wondering what you have to do, what is the process like and whether there is any way to simplify things. There may be, but it depends on a few different factors.

What is the small estate option?

Illinois understands that going through probate can be a complex and time-consuming process. In light of this, a streamlined process was created for instances where the estate is small enough – to alleviate some of the burden on surviving family members. When an estate qualifies, an executor can file a small estate affidavit and avoid probate entirely.

What are the requirements for a small estate affidavit?

At the outset, the value of the deceased's assets must be less than $100,000. This is not always obvious at first glance – what may appear to be an asset could legally pass to another person or entity without ever going through probate. For instance, if the deceased owned property jointly with someone else, it may pass automatically to the other owner and not be considered an asset for the purpose of probate.


Essential estate planning documents

Posted on in Uncategorized

The passage of time occurs more quickly than anticipated and unexpected events can arise anytime. Regardless of your level of wealth, you should start an estate plan and have these documents prepared.

Power of attorney

A durable power of attorney is one of these essential estate documents. It authorizes an agent to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf if you ever become incapacitated.

A durable power of attorney allows the agent to assume these tasks immediately.


What are Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions?

Posted on 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.
  • Vehicle exemption – filing parties can exempt up to $2,400 of the value of their vehicle.
  • Tools of the trade exemption – filing parties can exempt up to $1,500 worth of implements necessary for the filing party to perform their trade.
  • Personal property exemption – filing parties can exempt certain personal property such as necessary clothing, family pictures, prescribed home health aids, certain books and several other categories of items.
  • Wild card exemption – the wild card exemption can be used to protect up to $4,000 in property that would not otherwise be exempt.

Other bankruptcy exemption categories include pension and retirement exemptions, government benefits exemptions, insurance exemptions and some others. Bankruptcy property exemptions are an important protection that is built into the Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection process. For that reason, filing parties should be familiar with the different types of property exemptions they may be able to claim.

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.

Unusual factors can impact an estate plan

Most people will think about their will in its most fundamental terms to ensure their heirs get the property as they see fit. This is true for people of any age and all financial positions. Even though the law addresses a case in which the testator had a child after the will was executed, it is still wise to think about how that can impact the estate plan. Updating a will and considering alternatives can be useful.


How does Chapter 13 bankruptcy work?

Posted on 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.

Basics of Chapter 13 bankruptcy

It may not seem like people may ever be able to rid themselves of the debt, but people do have options. One of those options is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This option is mainly for people who want to keep their property after the divorce and also have the ability to make payments towards their debt. Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, people do not need to liquidate assets.

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