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Godfrey Illinois Law Blog

Illinois relies on small businesses, treats them poorly

According to Illinois Policy, businesses with less than 50 employees created the vast majority of new jobs in the state of Illinois, accounting for 83 percent of new job growth in 2017. In fact, small businesses, which generated nearly 130,000 new jobs between 2011 and 2017, are the primary reason for the state's recovery from the most recent depression. That is more than 60 percent of all new jobs created in the state. Because of its reliance on small business, one might think that the state would thank mom and pop shops via tax incentives and small business-friendly legislature. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be happening. 

Though Illinois is so reliant on small business for revenue, the small business climate in the Land of Lincoln is far from healthy. In fact, in August of 2018, entrepreneurs and small business owners gave Illinois a failing grade in terms of small business friendliness. The state ranked last in the nation. This is due to many reasons, but the most significant is the increasing number of tax hikes.

Reviewing an estate plan is crucial to optimize effectiveness

Estate planning is a time-consuming process for many people in Illinois who carefully analyze several areas of their life to identify where clarifications need to be made that will allow their surviving family members to know how to distribute their estate. Decisions regarding health care and financial proxies, guardianship of minors, distribution of assets and even allotment of their sentimental possessions to heirs, are all a part of creating a well-rounded estate plan. 

What many people may not recognize is how important it is to continually revisit and update their estate plan even after its creation and legal authorization is complete. Many industry professionals recommend that people assess the effectiveness and validity of their plan every three years to determine that it will still function as they desire despite changes to their family, alterations to laws, or personal changes to final wishes. 

What terms should you be aware of in a real estate contract?

You are preparing to buy a property in Illinois and are anticipating signing a contract reasonably soon. Now, you are wondering if there are specific terms that you should better understand before you sit down with the contract in front of you. Familiarizing yourself with some common terms can help you to more confidently understand each clause before you agree to them when you sign your name on the dotted line. 

A good rule of thumb is to have someone you trust and who is experienced in reading contracts, review and read the documents with you. They may be able to provide clarification on parts and give you a better understanding of what is being said. According to Realtor.com, some of the terms you may notice include the following:

  • Inspection: This process involves a third-party coming in to assess the condition of your property to determine that it is compliant with legal requirements. 
  • Appraisal: This process also involves a third-party coming in to establish a fair estimate on your property so the new buyer's lender can be sure they are not going to be taken advantage of.
  • Contingencies: These requirements will need to be accomplished by either you or the buyer before the real estate transaction can be completed. 
  • Title search: This process verifies that you are, indeed, the owner of the property and have all of the rights on the title. 

Illinois leads the pack for veteran entrepreneurship incentives

Though Illinois ranks as the least friendly state to start or operate a small business, it ranks in the top 10 for most veteran entrepreneur-friendly states. According to the State of Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs, the state has 89,110 veteran-owned businesses, earning the seventh spot on the top 10 list. There are several reasons for this, which the IDVA outlines in depth. 

According to the IDVA, the administration partnered with the Illinois Department of Central Management Services to bring together relevant government agencies, trade associations, educational institutions, employers and business professionals to educate veterans and returning servicemembers on the many advancement opportunities and resources available to aspiring veteran entrepreneurs. The two administrations also strive to help existing veteran-owned operations expand their reach.

Do I need a succession plan for my family’s business?

Every family business should have a succession plan to help create business stability and prevent family infighting in times of change. Succession planning can foster a smooth leadership transition for the time you choose to retire from your business or are forced to step away due to health. However, it should be completed well before either of these events transpire.

If your business is to continue beyond your involvement, you will have to make sure you have a successor with all of the necessary skills to replace you. For that, you will need time to train and mentor this person before he or she can be expected to succeed in your place.

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.

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