Pre-Planning in Estate Planning Can Protect Your Heirs from Probate Issues

DuPage County wills and trusts attorneysMost estate planners assume that having a will or living trust can keep their heirs from having to go through probate. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are numerous variables, potential oversights, and often confusing elements in the estate planning process. Any one of them can result in a need for probate. Learn more about how to reduce this risk with help from the following information.

Comparing Wills and Trusts

There are two basic methods used in estate planning: wills and trusts. Wills are an effective way to address guardianship issues, but they often increase the risk of probate because they can be challenged by family members. Living trusts are less likely to result in probate. Still, it is important to realize that a living trust does not eliminate the need for a will; almost no one disburses their entire estate through a living trust. Further, there may be elements in your estate plan that cannot be covered by a living trust.

Updating Your Beneficiaries

Couples marry, divorce, and then remarry. They have a child, and then maybe a few more. Family members pass away. In short, life changes. When it does, estate plans need updating. Beneficiaries need to be renamed or modified. Guardians may need to be altered or modified. Failure to do any of this can ultimately increase the risk of probate and may even lead to a loss of assets for a member of your family.

Using Payable and Transfer on Death

Payable-on-death and transfer-on-death accounts are one of the more effective strategies for reducing the overall risk of probate for your estate. They can be used to immediately transfer bank accounts, certificates of deposits, stocks, bonds, brokerage accounts, and other assets upon death. There are some limitations to these strategies, such as not being able to list an alternate beneficiary, so it is important to discuss your situation with an attorney to determine if this option may be appropriate for you.

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

If you are ready to start your estate plan, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC. Our DuPage County estate planning lawyers are dedicated to your best interest and your family’s future. We will examine your situation, explain your options, and assist you with a creative estate plan that can address your needs and desires. To get started, schedule your personalized consultation. Call us at 630-665-2500 today.


Electronic Business Contracts – Are They Valid?

Illinois business law attorneysLong gone are the days of doing everything on paper. Pictures and important documents are stored in the cloud. People often connect more with the people on their social media account than their neighbors. Even business contracts are sent and signed digitally. Are digital contracts an effective or legal option for businesses though? Can they stand up in the face of business litigation, or are digital contracts a lawsuit waiting to happen?

Uniform Electronic Transaction Act

In 1999, a total of 47 states adopted the Uniform Electronic Act, which indicates electronic signatures may be considered just as valid and legally binding as a manual one. The state of Illinois did not accept this law, but many digital signatures are considered valid. However, it is important to note that electronic signatures on negotiable instruments are not considered valid in the state of Illinois. Further, there may be additional restrictions placed on the validity of a specific contract or signature.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Contracts

One of the biggest benefits of electronic contracts is that they offer an easy way to send, receive, and store important business and employment contracts. Electronic signatures can also facilitate faster processing of certain documents. However, electronic contracts also have potential disadvantages – some of which are significant.

By far, the most concerning problem of electronic contracts in Illinois is the way they leave room for litigation. This risk is present for many reasons, but the lack of universal standards within the state is one of the most influential. Thankfully, a judge cannot simply deem a signature invalid because it was obtained electronically. Instead, they may consider some of the following aspects:

  • If all elements of a contract were present (offer, consent, acceptance);
  • If both parties entered the contract willfully;
  • The method or manner through which the signature was obtained; and,
  • Any other relevant factors to the case.

Contact Our DuPage County Business Law Attorneys

If you are a business owner who wishes to use electronic contracts in any aspect of your business, it is important that you discuss this desire with an experienced business law attorney. Not only can this prevent a costly mistake, but it can also help ensure your company is compliant in other areas of Illinois business law.

Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC is dedicated to the future of your company. Dedicated and experienced, we can carefully review your current legal processes to determine if there are any issues that may place your company at risk. Schedule your consultation with our DuPage County business law attorneys to learn more. Call 630-665-2500 today.


Illinois Real Estate Group Takes Action on Behalf of Investors

Illinois real estate lawyersInvesting in the state of Illinois’ real estate market is already risky business; the housing market is still lagging from the recession, and now the commercial real estate market is lagging and, perhaps, on the cusp of a crash. Unfortunately, this is not stopping legislatures from trying to impose rent control on both commercial and residential properties. What might this mean for you, the investor, and what actions are being taken to stop the advancement?

Examining the Rent Control Bill

As of right now, rent control is prohibited in the state of Illinois. In other words, property owners and investors can charge what they see fit for their property; generally, this is determined by calculating costs like taxes, the mortgage, maintenance, and insurance. After all that is configured, the investor is only likely to make a small profit. HB 2430, a House Bill that was recently proposed, would lift the prohibition and allow for rent control. In short, it would cut into the little bit of profit that investors currently make from their properties.

Understanding the Impact

As an investor, your goal is to make money off your properties. Of course, you may not make quite as much as everyone thinks you do – but the point is that you do turn a profit. Doing so not only increases your cash flow, but it also provides you with the funds needed to expand your portfolio. On the one hand, this might seem “greedy,” but as most investors know, it is all about being prepared for the next dry spell or market crash.

So what happens if HB 2430 passes? Well, for starters, you might be limited in the amount of rent you can charge. In the best-case scenario, this would decrease your income from a property. In the worst-case scenario, you start losing money on your investment properties. That is why the realtor group is fighting so hard to stop it.

Real Estate Group Campaigning for Investors

Real estate salespersons have jobs that are intrinsically tied to yours, so perhaps they are only looking out for their best interest in their fight against HB 2430. In the grand scheme of things, their motives do not matter. What does matter is the action that you and your fellow investors take against the bill. Not only can this help mitigate the potential risk of rent control, but it can also help you determine what actions can be taken now to mitigate the damage, should the bill pass.

Contact Our DuPage County Real Estate Lawyers

Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC has decades of experience working within the real estate industry. Dedicated to your financial future, we can guide you in developing creative solutions and strategies for growing your portfolio. Schedule your consultation with our DuPage County real estate lawyers. Call 630-665-2500.