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Questions to answer when choosing a guardian

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You're a young Illinois couple, in perfect health and having a baby. You're focused on fixing up the nursery, buying the safest car seat on the market and picking a name. But there's one more thing all expectant or new parents must add to their to-do list: Choose a guardian in case the unthinkable ever happens.

Many young people probably haven't thought about creating an estate plan but having a baby makes it an essential. If the parents unexpectedly pass away without naming a guardian, courts will decide who should raise your child.

That should be a parent's choice.


Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most aggressive and fastest kind of bankruptcy available to individuals and married couples. It also gets called liquidation bankruptcy, as the courts can order the liquidation of assets as a means of repaying creditors during Chapter 7 proceedings.

Typically, those who successfully file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can receive a discharge after the courts review their request, all without any requirement to repay their creditors. As a result, there are very strict limitations on who can file for Chapter 7 protection. In order to prevent abuse of this form of bankruptcy, it is necessary for individuals to pass a state-based means test prior to filing.

How does Illinois' means test work?

The basic premise of a means test involves comparing the individual's adjusted income to the state median income for their household size. The individual filing can make certain adjustments or reductions to their overall income for certain expenses, meaning that those who are quite close to or just over the income limit may still be able to pass the means test.


Types of trusts and their uses

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A will is an important part of any estate plan — but it doesn't have to be the focal point. Trusts have become increasingly popular vehicles for preserving wealth and passing it on to the next generation as people increasingly try to avoid the complicated (and expensive) process of probate.

There are a lot of different kinds of trusts out there, each suitable for different goals. If you're just starting to consider the usefulness of a trust as part of your estate plans, it may help to have a passing familiarity with the following kinds.

Revocable trusts

Revocable trusts are pretty much exactly what they sound like: You retain control over them during your lifetime and can end them at any point. Their chief advantage is their flexibility — and the fact that the assets inside them are distributed according to the trust's terms without going through probate.


The creation of an estate plan or last will is an important protection for both you and the people you love. Far too many people make the preventable mistake of delaying the creation of their estate plan indefinitely, which may mean that they died intestate or without a last will.

There are many different reasons why creating a last will sooner rather than later will benefit you, but there are three benefits that are nearly universal reasons to start estate planning now.

Your legacy may be how people remember you

You want to make a profound and lasting impression on people while still alive. Your legacy could include your professional, artistic or academic works, your family, or local community contributions, such as volunteerism or donating to charity.


Estate planning is never on anybody's list of “favorite things to do,” but it's really important to have those plans in place — just in case something happens. However, choosing the right people to manage those responsibilities can be complicated, especially if you don't know what each person is supposed to do.

Here's what each person involved in your estate will need to do:

The executor

Your executor is the person who acts as your personal representative. Their job is to secure your assets, pay your debts and follow the distribution guidelines of your will. While that sounds fairly simple, it can sometimes put them into conflict with family members (especially if they aren't happy about the will). A good executor is someone who lives close enough to be practical and well-trusted.

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