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choosing a legal guardian, DuPage County Estate Planning AttorneyMaking legal plans to ensure that your family is taken care of in the event of your death is not an easy subject to consider. It can be even more difficult for those who are parents of young children.

Although none of us want to think that we will not live long enough to see our children grow up into adulthood and have children of their own, the sad fact is that many parents pass away when their children are still minors. Therefore, it is important to have these plans in place, including who would be the legal guardian to your child in the event both of his or her parents die. If you do not make the decision while you are still alive, the state will make that decision when you are gone.

Often, when parents are having the discussion over who should be the legal guardian of their child, they disagree. The father may want a relative from his side of the family, while the mother may think one of her relatives would be the best choice. However, there are certain questions that parents can ask themselves as they make their list of the pluses and minuses for each of their choices.


zombie bank account, DuPage County Estate Planning AttorneyMillions of people take advantage of the convenience of online banking and bill paying, including setting up automatic withdrawals from their checking accounts each month. In many cases, it is done out of convenience. However, with some creditors, automatic payments may also be part of the stipulation for repayment, as in a loan repayment plan. When a person dies, and his or her bank accounts are closed, one would think that these automatic payments stop. Yet this is not always the case. Many families find that months later, they are dealing with "zombie bank accounts."

When a person opens up a checking account, he or she is given disclosure paperwork by the bank. Often included in those disclosures is the bank's right to reopen a closed account if a debit or credit arises. Banks do not have to decline the transaction. Moreover, they are also not required to notify the customer that an account has been reopened.

In one case, it actually took an overdraft of $888,888.88 to finally close a zombie account of a deceased California man. Several days after the man had passed away, his son went to the bank and closed his father's accounts. However, what the son did not know was that his father was paying hundreds of dollars every month to several payday loan companies. As part of the stipulation of the loans, these lenders automatically deducted the funds from his checking account every month. These deductions automatically reopened the account and it began showing a negative balance and racking up overdraft fees.


Illinois estate, no will, DuPage County Estate Planning AttorneyDrawing up a will is something that most people know they should do. However, for one reason or another, many never get around to doing it. Moreover, when they die, it often leaves major legal issues for their loved ones to sort out.

When a person dies without a will, it is referred to as intestate. We hear story after story about families locked in major battles over a family member's estate, which often results in a manner that the deceased person would not have wanted. The only legal choice, however, is the one made by the court because there was no will.

This is the case with the estate of the late granddaughter of actor Morgan Freeman. Last August, the 33-year-old woman was stabbed to death. Her estate included a condo, worth approximately $800,000, that Freeman had purchased. When the young woman was murdered, she was not married, nor did she have any children or siblings. She also died intestate. According to New York law, where the young woman lived, her estate will go to her mother and father because she did not have a will.


social security rules, DuPage County Estate Planning LawyerThe Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which the President signed on November 2, 2015, contains multiple changes to payment strategies that many people utilized in determining when and how they would collect their Social Security retirement benefits. These changes eliminate "unintended loopholes" which ultimately financially benefited many claimants, and will particularly affect those who turn 62 years of age after 2015.

The first major change will be the elimination of double claiming. Many married couples—aged 66 years or older—have had the option of first claiming spousal payments (if the spouse was a higher earner) and then are able to switch to their own benefit amounts, which are now higher because they delayed in claiming. The longer one waits to claim his or her Social Security benefits, the higher monthly benefit amount will be.

For example, a wife may file for spousal benefit at age 62. When she turns 70, she then switches to her own retirement benefit, which has increased significantly from what her benefit amount would have been if she had claimed it at age 62. However, with the new changes, a person will need to choose one option or the other and will not be able to make changes to that choice later on. According to one analysis, there is a potential savings to the Social Security fund of $10 billion annually by eliminating this option.


estate planning and divorce, Illinois Estate Planning LawyerJust as June is typically referred to as the wedding month, January is quickly earning the moniker of divorce month. Statistically, there is a glut of divorce filings which occur on the first Monday of January, and those filings continue to occur on a steady pace for the rest of the month.

A person who is going through the process of divorce typically struggles with decisions such as child custody issues, property and asset division, as well as many other legal—and emotional—issues. Given all these upheavals, it could be very easy to overlook one very important issue which a divorcing person needs to address—the updating of estate planning documents.

If you currently have a will drafted, it most likely names your soon-to-be ex-spouse as an heir. There is also a good possibility that your spouse is also the executor of your estate, which means he or she controls whether or not your last wishes will be kept.

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