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What's In A Name?
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Planning Q & A
A: The simple answer is anyone who has any minor children or any assets to pass along at their death.
Q: When is it time to update your estate plan?
A: Many experts advise reviewing your will or trust every three to five years. But changes in your financial or family situation may warrant an earlier review. For example: births of children or grandchildren; death of an agent, executor, or trustee; divorce; marriage; substantial change in assets. Also if you are considering obtaining a large life insurance policy, you may want to set up a life insurance trust before you purchase the policy.
Given that the federal estate
tax “repeal” has not been extended
past 2010 and the Illinois estate tax exemption will be capped at $2 million
even after the federal exemption goes to $3.5 million in 2009, we’re
recommending that Illinois clients with estates over $2 million update
their plans by the end of 2008 and all clients with estates over $1 million
talk with us in 2009.
A: An estate plan allows you to direct who will receive your property upon your death, who will distribute your property and handle the affairs of your estate after your death, and who will care for any of your minor children that you may have at your death. An estate plan can range from a simple will to more sophisticated trusts and plans depending on your needs and desires. Without proper planning, these decisions will be made by a probate court judge and/or according to statute.
An estate plan may also include documents which allow you to name the person or persons who would handle your property or make health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle your affairs.
Q: Any other reasons?
A: We all want to save money. Estate plans can help you do that. For example,
an estate plan may help to reduce or eliminate estate taxes after your
death. The estate tax is imposed on estates that are larger than $2 million
presently. While this number sounds high, it can be reached quicker than
one realizes. Some of the assets that are included in your estate are:
These are some of the trends we're noticing in litigation.
1. Courts are increasing use of Alernate Dispute Resolution. The Northern District of Illinois implemented an experimental mediation program in trademark cases. It does not appear to have caught on yet, however, and the case resolution rate is lower than we could hope for. On the plus side, it's one of the few formal ADR programs that starts early in the case process.
2. Courts across the nation are cutting back on the types of cases that can be heard by juries. In addition, some notable jury verdicts have been overturned or reversed.
3. Technology use is increasing. In DuPage County, for example, rather than using live court reporters in the courtrooms, an audio recording system is used with one operator monitoring up to four courtrooms. More and more court records are available on the Internet. In addition, a new service offers the ability to take depositions over the Internet. Multiple windows allow for simultaneous viewing of documents and real-time transcripts of the testimony.
Is Remodeling In
First, get recommendations from people who have used a contractor before using the contractor. If you don’t know anyone who has used the contractor, ask each contractor you are considering to supply a list of satisfied customers. Talk directly with the customers to find out if they had any problems with the contractor or job. Make sure the customers are independent of the contractor (i.e., not relatives, friends, or business associates).
Second, get a written contract. Make sure the contract doesn’t make you get far ahead of the work in your payments. If possible, rather than mail a deposit mailed to the contractor ahead of time, have the deposit payable on the first day of construction. Make future payments tied to progress, and if city inspections are required, make sure fair amounts can be held back until inspections are passed.
Third, when you make payments, get signed, notarized sworn statements and lien waivers. The contractor should list any subcontractors on the job and what they are being paid from the progress payment. Be careful that it shows subcontractors being paid in full to decrease the chance that a sub will try to lien your property.
For larger jobs, it may be worthwhile to seek our help in reviewing and/or negotiating the contract.