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Illinois bankruptcy lawyersLike most things in life, bankruptcy can be either a negative thing or a positive thing - it all depends on how you handle it. There are certain things that you can and cannot do when filing for bankruptcy. Violating bankruptcy laws can result in criminal charges, meaning you could be subject to up to five years in jail and $500,000 in fines. If you want to make your bankruptcy process a good one, be sure to avoid making these costly mistakes:

1. Lying or Attempting to Hide Assets

The number one thing you should not do when filing for bankruptcy is lying about factors that could make or break your ability to declare bankruptcy. When reporting your assets, income, or debts, you should be completely honest or you could face criminal charges and your bankruptcy case will be dismissed. To file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to go through what is called a “means test” which examines financial records, income, expenses, and your debt to determine whether or not you qualify. Lying or hiding assets so you pass the means test is not good.

2. Increasing Your Credit Card Debt

This is another no-no when filing for bankruptcy. You may think that bankruptcy will relieve you from all of your credit card debt, but typically, credit card purchases that are made within 90 days of filing for bankruptcy are not included in the bankruptcy relief. This means that you will be responsible for paying your creditors that money.

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Orland Park prenuptial agreement lawyersTalking about prenuptial agreements used to be a taboo topic of conversation - if you loved and trusted each other, why were you planning what you would do during a divorce? Nobody can predict the future and in the case that things do end up going south, you want to make sure that your assets are protected. In recent years, prenuptial agreements have been becoming more and more popular as the average age of marriage has been becoming later. If you are wondering whether or not a prenuptial agreement is right for you, consider these reasons for getting one:

1. You Have Been Married Before

One of the most popular reasons why couples consider prenuptial agreements is because one or both of them has been married previously. Whether you did not come out on top in the divorce the first time around or you have spousal obligations from that marriage, a premarital agreement can contain provisions about support obligations or other assets.

2. You Have Children

Going along with a prior marriage, if you have children coming into a marriage, you should seriously consider a prenuptial agreement. Whether the children were from a previous marriage or from a person other than the person you are marrying, the agreement can contain clauses about child support and what will be left to your children if you die.

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Tinley Park estate planning and divorce lawyerDivorce comes with a long, long list of things that you need to do and items that you need to give consideration to. If you are getting divorced, one of the things that you should be thinking about is your estate plan and what the end of your marriage means for that plan. You are most likely going to need to change some things in your estate plan, but what should you be looking for? Here are three things that you should review and update following your divorce:

1. Power of Attorney

A power of attorney for finances allows another person to manage your affairs if you are unable to do so yourself. You and your spouse probably have executed a power of attorney at some point, but you should revoke this as soon as possible, as it may give your spouse access to your assets. This can be particularly important if the divorce is not going to be a smooth one. In addition, you may have executed a power of attorney for healthcare which named your spouse as a health care proxy, authorizing them to make healthcare-related decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You will likely want to revoke this authority as well following your divorce.

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Oak Forest divorce lawyer for dividing marital propertyDivorce affects your entire life, from your living situation and daily routine to your finances. Under normal circumstances, finances can be a headache, and in the case of a divorce, they can be even more frustrating. Your assets and finances are a big part of your divorce settlement, and because of that, you will probably have a few questions. Who should take the house? Who gets the antique dining table in your home? How will you divide your retirement funds? These questions can be daunting, but they do not have to be impossible to resolve. With a little research and advice from a knowledgeable divorce lawyer, you can make the best decisions for your family.

The Family Home

During divorce, the easiest thing to do is to sell your house if you or your spouse do not have a particular attachment to it. By selling your house, you can your spouse can split the profits and carry on with your lives if you have equity in your home. If one spouse wants to keep the home, you will have to figure out if you can afford to keep it, and the home will need to be refinanced to remove the other spouse from the mortgage. Either way, you should get a proper valuation of your home so you know what you are dealing with.

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Palos Heights divorce lawyerDivorce is not uncommon; depending on which reference you are using, the divorce rate in the United States is reported to be anywhere between 40 and 50 percent. With that number in mind, you would think that more people would understand the ins and the outs of divorce, but many topics still seem to be misunderstood by most people. Here are three widely accepted “facts” of divorce and the truths behind them:

1. If One Spouse Is at Fault for the Divorce, They Will Be Penalized

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) only recognizes “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds, or reason, for divorce. No-fault divorce only requires a spouse who files for divorce to state that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, without requiring them to provide a reason. The IMDMA states that decisions about property division and spousal support cannot be made with regard to any sort of marital misconduct. So in short, unless a spouse is dissipating marital property in an affair (such as by using marital funds to buy gifts for a paramour), adultery or other reasons one spouse is at fault will likely not affect the legal aspects of a divorce.

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Tinley Park contested estate attorneyWhen someone dies and leaves a will, that will is probably going to end up going through probate, the legal process of proving, settling, and finalizing the will. The vast majority of wills go through probate without incident, but every once in a while, a will is contested for its validity. Typically, the person who is contesting the will is unhappy with the will in some way and attempts to have the will thrown out. 

Who Can Contest a Will?

In Illinois, a person must have “standing” to contest a will, meaning that they must be affected in some way by the will. The person must have a direct, financial, and existing interest that would be negatively affected if the will were to be accepted by the court.

According to the Illinois Probate Act, those wishing to contest a will must file a petition with the court within six months of the will being admitted to probate in order to have their petition heard. Any petitions filed after the six-month period will not be considered.

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Tinley Park estate planning lawyerNobody wants to think about their death. It is not an enjoyable idea to consider, and it is even less pleasant to discuss. Even though the topic is never fun, it is important that you begin planning for your family’s financial future as early as possible. Having a sound and solid estate plan can help you and your family have peace of mind by knowing that the future is well planned for. Here are some common estate planning mistakes that people make:

1. Not Having an Estate Plan

Statistics show that more than half of Americans have not made a will or plans for their finances after they die. Estate planning is not just financial planning--you are also planning for your own health and well-being. It also means that you are providing your loved ones with an organized inheritance and less stress when your time comes.

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Orland Park estate planning lawyer probate processMost people do not know a lot about probate until a loved one dies, and the ones that do know about it think that it is a long and frustrating process. While the probate process can indeed be lengthy, it does not have to be frustrating or complicated. 

What Is the Probate Process?

Probate is the legal process that a deceased person’s estate goes through to be properly distributed to heirs and designated beneficiaries. Typically, a person’s property is distributed according to the deceased person’s last will and testament, but if there is no will, property is distributed according to state law. During the probate process, the following steps are taken:

1. File the Will in Probate Court and Notify Beneficiaries

The probate process begins when a petition is filed in the local probate court to place the will into probate and appoint an executor of the estate. If the deceased person did not have a will, the petition will ask the court to appoint a person as an administrator for the estate. The notice of the hearing must be given to all beneficiaries, which allows them to contest the will in court if they object to the terms of the will. The notice should also be published in a newspaper in the county in which the petition was filed. 

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Cook County bankruptcy attorney Chapter 7 Chapter 13When people get in over their head with debt, the laws of the United States have provided legal options to help. Bankruptcy is a legal way for people to be released from liability for their debts. The bankruptcy process occurs in a court with a judge and a court trustee who will examine the ability of the person to pay their debts and decide whether or not their debts should be discharged. There are two different types of bankruptcy that the majority of bankruptcy cases are filed as: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The majority of bankruptcy cases in the United States are filed as Chapter 7 bankruptcies; these accounted for 63 percent of cases in 2015. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is what you usually think of when you think of bankruptcy--all of your debts are discharged if you are granted a bankruptcy under this chapter.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are able to keep exempt property, which can include:

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Oak Forest estate planning lawyer family financesNearly half of Americans do not have a will, and even less than that have an estate plan. It is not hard to see why, since nobody wants to think about what will happen when they die. However, it is important to plan for your family’s financial future. Almost everyone can benefit from having a will, but if you are not sure if you need an estate plan, here are some things to consider:

1. Children

If you have a child, it is important to decide what will happen to them in the event that you and your spouse die. In a will, you can name a guardian to take care of your child, but you should also state what assets the child might inherit and who is to take care of those assets until the child is old enough to gain access to them.

If you need something more extensive than a will, a trust might be the best option. A trust allows another person to hold assets on behalf of the person receiving them, and it can minimize estate taxes.

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Tinley Park spousal maintenance lawyerIn many divorce cases, one spouse may be required to pay spousal maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support) to the other for a certain period of time following the end of the marriage. This typically occurs in situations in which one spouse earns a higher income, when a parent has chosen to remain at home to care for children rather than earn an income, or when one spouse helped the other obtain education or pursue career advancement. 

Spousal maintenance is meant to help a spouse continue living in the manner they were used to during their marriage while allowing them to become financially self-supporting. Spouses who expect to receive or pay spousal support after their divorce should be aware of some recent updates to Illinois law that may affect them.

Maintenance Amount

In Illinois, the amount of maintenance is determined by subtracting 20% of the recipient’s gross income from 30% of the payor’s gross income. This amount, when added to the recipient’s income, cannot be larger than 40% of the spouses’ combined incomes. 

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Cook County divorce lawyer parents childrenThe process of ending a marriage is rarely easy, but it can lead to a more positive situation for everyone involved, including divorcing spouses and their children. However, children will often experience a great deal of anxiety and stress during their parents’ divorce, so it is important for parents to do everything they can to protect them throughout the divorce process. Here are some tips for how to reduce the negative effects of divorce on children:

  • Avoid conflict in front of children - When a marriage breaks down, it can be hard for spouses to be civil to each other. However, it is important to avoid arguing in your children’s presence, since this can make the process more difficult for them. Work to resolve your differences in a respectful manner without involving your children in any way.
  • Work together with your ex-spouse - While cooperation with your ex will likely be difficult, you will need to be able to work together as co-parents in raising your children. Ideally, you should both inform your children of the divorce together after agreeing on what you plan to say, and you should establish ground rules that both of you will follow during your respective parenting time.
  • Offer reassurance - Children often feel that they are to blame for their parents’ divorce, so it is important to make sure they understand that it is not their fault and that both you and your ex-spouse will always love them and be a part of their lives. Take some time before introducing a new love interest to them, since additional changes to their lives can lead to stress and uncertainty.
  • See a therapist - Avoid talking to your children about the reasons for divorce, complaining to them about the other parent, or relying on them for emotional support. Instead, visit a therapist to discuss your feelings. Children may also benefit from seeing a counselor who can help them work through their emotions and learn how to adjust to the changes in their lives.
  • Consider mediation - Trying to resolve divorce disputes in court can be costly and stressful for everyone involved, including children. Divorce mediation allows couples to address their legal concerns in an amicable, cooperative manner, establishing methods for working together as they continue to raise their children in the years to come after their divorce.

Contact a Palos Heights Divorce Attorney

If you are considering divorce, or if you need help resolving issues related to your children as you work to reach a divorce settlement, the attorneys of Anderson and Associates, P.C. can provide you with the representation you need. Contact an Orland Park divorce lawyer today by calling 708-226-9904 to arrange a free consultation.

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5 Things to Consider Before Filing for Divorce

Marriage is a wonderful thing when both spouses are able to work together as partners, but if your relationship has broken down, it is understandable to want to leave a difficult situation and embark on the next phase of your life.

However, there are many complicated personal, emotional, and legal issues that come with ending a marriage, and before filing for divorce, you should ask yourself the following questions:

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