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The process of estate planning can be challenging, depending on the size and complexity of your estate and what you want done with your assets upon your death. Proper estate planning requires a level of knowledge of the various tools, methods, and strategies that are often employed. For example, it is important to understand the differences between a will and a living trust and how those differences could affect your heirs. It is also a good idea to work closely with a qualified lawyer who can provide assistance in meeting your estate planning needs.

What Is a Will?

At its most basic, a will is a legal document that allows you to specify how your assets and possessions are to be distributed. A will can also name a legal guardian for any minor children. An important characteristic of a will is that it is a revocable and amendable document that you can control until your death. It can be updated, altered, or changed to accommodate changing situations, such as the death of an heir or divorce. Keep in mind, however, that there are some major limitations with a will—particularly when it comes to the amount of control you have over your estate after your death. The tax consequences for your heirs may also be significant if your estate plan consists only of a will.

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For many business owners, terminating an employee is something they hope they will not have to do. Unfortunately, letting employees go is just as much a part of being a business owner as hiring employees is. When an employer fires an employee, the employer must be careful to avoid creating an opportunity for the employee to sue.

Illinois is an “at-will employment” state, which means that a workers’ employment can be terminated for nearly any reason, including no reason at all. However, there are exceptions. For example, it is illegal to fire an employee on the basis of the employee’s age, race, national origin, and other characteristics protected by law. This creates a vast gray area when it comes to letting an employee go, and employers must make certain that the termination was handled in compliance with the law. There is no way to completely eliminate the risk of being sued, but avoiding these common mistakes can help business owners avoid litigation.

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The decision to get divorced is never easy, but once you have made that decision, the real work begins. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse must now decide how you will divide your marital property, share the responsibilities of parenting your children, and build your respective lives after the divorce. One of you must also initiate the formal divorce process by filing the petition for divorce at your county courthouse. At our firm, we are often asked about this, and many clients are curious to know does it matter which spouse files for divorce first.

What Does the Law Saw?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage, or IMDMA, is a collection of laws that essentially govern the entire process of divorce in the state of Illinois. According to the law, a divorce is, at its most basic, a legal proceeding through which the marital contract between two parties is officially dissolved. Technically, a divorce has a plaintiff and a defendant, but the application of the terms is much less important during a divorce than in other types of legal proceedings, such as criminal or personal injury cases. As a matter of fact, the IMDMA references the parties in a divorce as the plaintiff or defendant in just a single paragraph.

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When homeowners default on their mortgage payments, sometimes the only option for lenders is to initiate foreclosure proceedings. However, this can lead to conflict between lenders and borrowers that may result in property damage, increased expenses, and challenges related to finding a new buyer. Sometimes, it is in the best interest of both lenders and borrowers to consider other options that may prevent the need for foreclosure.

Understanding Illinois Foreclosure Alternatives

When possible, lenders may consider working with homeowners to explore options that can prevent defaulting on payments or otherwise make a foreclosure unnecessary. These options include:

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The time after a loved one’s passing is hard for all grieving family members, and it can be even more difficult when disputes arise over the decedent’s wishes or the validity of the will. As you prepare your estate plan, you should consider what you can do to prevent these disputes from happening after your death so that your family remains intact and well-provided for. The following tips will help prevent a contested estate.

Creating an Illinois Estate Plan to Minimize Disputes

Many contested estate disputes happen because family members are dissatisfied with how the terms of the will affect them, while others may be based more firmly on legal grounds. You should, of course, make sure that the terms of your estate plan reflect what you truly want, but there are also steps that you can take to help your family and beneficiaries understand your reasoning and show that you were of sound mind when making your decisions. These include:

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