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no-contest, Wheaton estate planning attorneysThere are a number of reasons that a will or other estate planning document may be invalid. If the testator was not of sound mind due to dementia or another health condition when he or she created the will, for example, the will may not represent the testator’s true wishes. If a testator was coerced or tricked into the provisions contained in his or her will, it is also invalid. If a loved one has reason to believe that the directions contained in a deceased person’s will should not be followed, they may contest the will in court. Unfortunately, some beneficiaries may contest a will simply because they do not like the instructions contained within the will. If you are concerned that someone may challenge the validity of your will after you pass away, you may want to consider adding a “no-contest” clause.

Basics of No-Contest Clauses

There is no way to completely prevent your will from being challenged after your death. However, you can discourage beneficiaries from challenging it. A no-contest clause is a provision in a will or trust that establishes certain “penalties” if a beneficiary challenges the validity of the will or trust. For example, perhaps you are worried that one of your children will be unhappy with his or her share of your estate. You worry that he or she will contest the validity of your will in an attempt to have the will thrown out. You could include a no-contest clause that states that if a beneficiary disputes the validity of your will and loses, he or she will lose part or all of the inheritance assigned to him or her. The possibility of losing a significant inheritance can make a beneficiary think twice before challenging your will.

Limitations of an Illinois No-Contest Clause

It is important to note that a no-contest clause cannot guarantee that your will may not be contested. A beneficiary may still choose to challenge the will even at the risk of losing his or her inheritance. If the will is found to be invalid, the directions contained within the will may be disregarded and your estate may instead be distributed according to intestate law. A no-contest clause also does not discourage people who are not named as beneficiaries from challenging the will. The best way to prevent your will from being successfully challenged is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney who can ensure the validity of your will.

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non-compete, Wheaton business lawyersWhen an individual purchases a business, they are not only buying the physical assets associated with that business. They are also taking ownership of more abstract assets like the existing customer base, the name and reputation of the business, and intellectual property. Understandably, someone who buys a business wants to ensure that the value of these intangible assets is not reduced because the original owner of the business is opening a competing business in the same market. This is just one of many situations in which a non-compete agreement can be beneficial.

How Does a Non-Compete Agreement Work?

Put simply, a non-compete agreement is a legally binding contract involving a promise not to enter into business competition of some kind. Non-competition clauses are most often used to prevent an employee from working for a competitor or starting a business that competes with his or her employer’s business. These agreements can also include a provision prohibiting the employee from disclosing proprietary information to other parties. Covenants not to compete are often also required of business consultants and contractors.

Non-Compete Agreements Must Meet Certain Criteria to be Enforceable

Of course, a non-competition agreement cannot simply instruct an employee to never again work in a certain field. The scope and duration of a non-compete must be reasonable for the contract to be valid. Illinois courts have ruled that non-compete agreements are only valid if certain criteria is met. It is advised that any business utilizing a non-compete in Illinois provides employees with continuous employment for at least two years as well as additional consideration in the form of perks like bonuses or higher compensation.

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buying, Wheaton real estate lawyersBuying a new home can be a very exciting undertaking. However, there are also many potential pitfalls, and it is important to not take the process lightly. If you are in the market for a new home, it is a good idea to take your time and make sure that you are making the best possible decision for your situation. You should also enlist the help of a qualified residential real estate lawyer to assist you along the way. As you begin your home search, be on the lookout for red flags that might be indicators that the house you are thinking about buying would be a big mistake.

Difficulties With Inspections

A home inspection is an essential part of the home-buying process. The point of the inspection is to make sure that a prospective buyer is fully aware of any problems that exist with the home. Roof issues, water damage, outdated electrical wiring, plumbing concerns, and a variety of other problems are not always immediately noticeable without an inspection by a fully qualified inspector.

Unfortunately, not all homeowners are cooperative with the inspection process. An owner might try to influence the inspector or dissuade you from using your own inspector. If the current owner of the home you are considering is standing in the way of a comprehensive inspection, it could be a sign that the owner is attempting to conceal serious problems.

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executor, DuPage County estate planning attorneysCreating an estate plan is a vital responsibility regardless of your wealth or property. Surprisingly, approximately 60 percent of American adults have not even created a will, let alone any other type of estate planning document. Everyone deserves to decide how their possessions are passed down to heirs, but these decisions are left to state law when a person passes away without any estate planning instruments in place. If you are ready to start making your estate plan, you may be wondering who you should choose as the executor of your will. The executor has many key obligations, so it is important to choose someone who can fulfill these duties.

Completing Your Final Affairs

An executor is the person responsible for finalizing a deceased person’s worldly affairs. Executors, also called personal representatives, have a legal duty to act in good faith and with integrity on behalf of a deceased person. Executors have many responsibilities, including but not limited to:

  • Managing the deceased person's property and belongings until they are distributed to heirs
  • Supervising the distribution of the deceased person’s property as per the directions contained in the will, or if there is no will, according to intestate succession law
  • Filing the will in the local probate court
  • Representing the estate in court
  • Terminating credit cards and notifying the deceased person’s bank of his or her death
  • Contacting the Social Security Administration and other governmental agencies regarding the death
  • Establishing a bank account for incoming funds and bill payment
  • Paying the deceased person’s bills such as mortgage payments, utility bills, and homeowner's insurance premiums using estate funds and
  • Paying the deceased person’s debts and taxes

The person you name as the executor of your estate has a large responsibility, so it is important to choose someone who you think can sufficiently handle executor duties. Many people choose a spouse, sibling, or adult child to be the executor of their will but the executor does not have to be a blood relative.

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wrongful termination, Wheaton business law attorneyIf you are a business owner, you are probably an extremely busy person. The last thing you need is to deal with an employee suing you for alleged wrongful termination. Not only are wrongful termination lawsuits stressful and time consuming, they can also be extremely expensive. The average amount received by terminated employees in a wrongful termination or employment discrimination claim is just over $37,000. Most wrongful termination claims involve an allegation that the employer breached the employment contract or that the termination somehow violated a state or federal employment law. One of the best ways to avoid a discrimination suit or wrongful termination claim is to follow proper procedures when firing employees.

Make Sure All Employees Understand the Company’s Policies

Employees should be fully aware of the company’s policies regarding employee expectations, discipline, and termination. Many employers find that writing policies and procedures in a comprehensive employee handbook is one way to ensure that employees have a written record of rules and expectations. An experienced business lawyer is a tremendously valuable resource when it comes to formulating an employee handbook that gives you the best chances of avoiding a lawsuit.

Conduct Performance Reviews and Document Everything

Unless an employee has committed an especially egregious act that necessitates an immediate termination, firing an employee should be a last resort. An employee who is underperforming should be made aware of the ways in which he or she is not meeting expectations and given guidance on how to improve. Conducting regular performance reviews is a great way to let an employee know when he or she is missing the mark. Make sure you keep documentation of the dates of these reviews, what was discussed during the reviews, and how you and supervisory staff have made efforts to help the struggling employee.

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