Farrell, Hamilton & Julian, P.C.

Godfrey Illinois Law Blog

The basics of trusts

People in Illinois who think about estate planning might automatically think about a will or a trust. However, they may not be aware of how a trust works or that there are many different types of trusts. A person's assets and wishes can help direct them to select the right trust for their situation.

Before evaluating some specific types of trusts, people should learn about the basic elements of all trusts. As The Street explains, there are three key parties to every trust. The first party is the beneficiary. This is the person who is slated to receive assets or income from the trust. The second party is the trustor. This is the person who grants property or other assets to the trust. The third party is the trustee. This is the person who has the fiduciary responsibility of managing the trust and dispersing assets per the instructions.

What is a payable on death account?

One of the easiest ways to avoid probate in Illinois is to not leave behind anything that needs to go through that process. Essentially, this means having all your assets set up to automatically transfer to another person upon your death. Many people use trusts or have joint ownership of an asset. If you have a spouse, assets typically go directly to him or her when you die. However, you may have other situations with assets where these things cannot apply. In those cases, you may consider a payable on death account.

According to the Illinois General Assembly, a payable on death account is when two or more people jointly own an account and sign an agreement that states upon the death of the last owner, the account transfers to designated beneficiaries. For example, you and your business partner own a savings account and you sign a payable on death document with the bank. You both name beneficiaries. Your partner dies first. When you die, the account transfers to the beneficiaries you named.

Developing your small business through effective marketing

If you have recently launched your small business in Illinois, you may be well aware that maintaining any sort of company at all requires you to dedicate consistent time, effort and resources to achieve your initiatives and attain success. At Farrell, Hamilton & Julian, P.C., we have helped many small business owners to protect their assets and become educated about business law. 

One of the most critical components of operating your business requires you to market your products or services to the consumers you hope will become your customers. While there are several ways to do this, discovering which methods and strategies are the best for your organization will be a process of trial and error. Even once you have found an effective method for you, it is imperative that you revisit other options to stay current and competitive as market conditions and consumer interests change and the economy fluctuates. 

Estate planning and your beneficiaries

Setting up an estate plan can be a daunting task for all sorts of reasons. Some people, for example, may be unsure of which type of estate plan to choose. A trust may be ideal for some people (and there are various types of trusts, too), while a will may work out better for another. Once you have figured out which type of estate plan to move ahead with, many other considerations could surface, such as trying to decide how to distribute your assets. This can bring up some incredibly difficult decisions, especially those which involve family members, and it is crucial to be mindful of how your decisions may affect those you love.

You may be dealing with a number of issues which could influence how you will divide your estate among those you love. For example, one of your children may be estranged from you, or you could worry that leaving a portion of your estate to one of your family members may actually be counterintuitive. If you have a family member who is addicted to drugs or gambling, you may need to be careful when it comes to deciding how to leave them with some of your estate.

Estate Planning Q&A

Most individuals who have been able to enjoy success have at least heard of estate planning. You may have heard of the subject or even done some amount of personal research. Estate planning is a large subject that can feel impenetrable for those on the outside, though.

Consider this your primer on the basics of estate planning. Simple things like what estate planning is and what it’s good for will be covered, as well as a few other important pieces of information. By the end, you should have a sturdy groundwork for the subject and be ready to begin your estate planning process or at least be prepared to ask informed questions.

What can I do when I face a business tax audit?

At one point, you may receive a letter from the IRS informing you of an audit on your Illinois business. This can be unnerving, but it does not have to be if you prepare for it. One thing to keep in mind, according to H&R Block, is the process can be lengthy depending on the method by which the IRS conducts the audit. The agent may do your audit by mail, at a local IRS office or in person. In person audits typically take the longest.

Expect that during the process, the agent will check all your reported income and go over all your accounts to verify the validity of any deductions and credits. The IRS wants to make sure you have reported all your income and taken only credits and deductions for which you qualify. Since the agent looks over all of your documentation, it might take up to a year to complete the audit process.

Why 'House Buyers of America' is taking over

Over the years, the real estate industry in Illinois has ebbed and flowed like much of the other components of the economy. However, as of late, real estate all throughout the nation appears to be at an all-time high. Buyers and sellers are exploring new ways of advertising and purchasing properties, and the processes of both buying and selling are changing with the technological advances of today's professionals. 

Recently, a new phenomenon, House Buyers of America, has been dubbed "The Amazon of Real Estate," by many who are pleased with the efficiency of the home selling process compared with traditional methods. The company, with headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia, has revolutionized the process of selling property and aims to benefit the consumer rather than realtors and other professionals who generally assist in the process of buying and selling real estate. 

Estate planning is not just for people with children

You have heard people discuss the importance of creating an estate plan, but you brush it aside because you do not yet have a family or dependents of any kind. In fact, you are doing relatively well for yourself and are confident in your ability to manage your own life in the current moment. At Farrell, Hamilton & Julian, P.C., we have helped educate many people in Illinois about the importance of investing in an estate plan early on. 

Perhaps the largest misconception about estate planning is that it is intended for people only if they are aged and nearing their final years. On the contrary, no matter how young you are, beginning the steps to creating an estate plan can be incredibly beneficial and rewarding. Developing a well-rounded estate plan that caters to your lifestyle and desires can take time to put together, but when done at a stage of your life where you are not stressed, you can spend time thinking about the details. Should you wish to modify anything down the road, it will be much easier to do so than to be trying to create a plan when your life has changed drastically and you are in a bind. 

What should I fight for in a business negotiation?

You have just been presented with an invaluable opportunity to do business with some incredible companies in Illinois, but part of reaching an agreement with them requires you to negotiate. This aspect of business is truly an art and one that you have to develop and constantly work at to be able to be successful. Understanding what you should be fighting for in a business negotiation and what you should forget about is important to make sure that you get what you really want out of a deal. 

Asking for too much can cause you to lose a potentially valuable deal that may have taken your organization to new heights. On the contrary, being too passive could leave you with a good deal, but less than you were capable of winning with a bit more tenacity. Finding the balance is often the most difficult accomplishment, but with practice, you can get exactly what you want without compromising benefits you would rather keep. 

Effective CC&Rs require proper drafting and enforcement

Living in a covenanted community has its benefits. Gated or closed neighborhoods tend to be well-maintained, quieter and safer. Additionally, it’s easier for homeowners to retain or increase investments made in their properties.

A homeowners’ association checks that residents follow covenant guidelines. It’s no easy feat, but without cooperation comes disarray.

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