Giving Your Heirs “Lifetime Gifts” Can Benefit You During the Estate Planning Process

Wheaton wills and trusts lawyersIf estate plans were only about money, they would not be so difficult to create. Instead, parties must first come to terms with their own eventual death, and they must consider where and how they would like money to be distributed. Since family matters can be highly complex and sometimes volatile, and the rules for handling assets upon one’s death can vary by type and situation, such decisions regarding inheritances can be more than just difficult. One possible solution is to use “lifetime gifts” as your guide. Learn more in the following sections, including how our seasoned estate planning attorneys can help with drafting your initial estate plan. 

What is a Lifetime Gift?

Lifetime gifts are often used as an estate-planning strategy for reducing federal and state taxes, which means they are most commonly used in estate plans that exceed either the $4 million Illinois state estate tax exemption or the $5.5 million federal estate tax exemption. Each gift, which may equal up to $15,000 in value each year ($30,000 maximum for married couples giving a joint gift), reduces the value of the estate, thereby reducing the amount that heirs will be taxed when they inherit it. Lifetime gifts can do more than simply lower the tax load of one’s estate, however. They can also benefit the guarantor during the estate planning process. 

Using Lifetime Gifts to Aid You in Estate Planning

One of the biggest struggles that guarantors face is deciding how to distribute their wealth among heirs. Some are not even sure if the total value of the estate should be divided equally among children, or if personality and spending habits be considered when deciding how much to give a specific heir? Those who are considering the latter may use lifetime gifting as a part of their estate planning strategy. 

Consider this example: You have two children – one that has always been responsible with money and life decisions, and another that usually spends money frivolously and seems to struggle with making good and healthy life decisions. Perhaps the latter has made attempts to improve things, so you want to leave them an inheritance. Yet, because of their history with money, you are concerned that they will squander whatever you leave to them. A lifetime gift, given to them with conditions, can help you determine how well they might handle an inheritance. You can also give lifetime gifts to extended family members that you may not know very well to determine how they might handle any wealth that you decide to leave them. 

Contact Our Wheaton Estate Planning Attorneys 

Lifetime gifting is just one of many strategies that guarantors can use during the estate planning process. Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC can assist you in using it, as well as any others that may serve your needs. Schedule a consultation with our DuPage County wills and trusts lawyers by calling 630-665-2500 today. 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=609&ChapterID=8

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/estate-tax

 

Tips for Protecting Your Interests While Negotiating a Business Contract

Wheaton small business lawyersAlthough there are many key elements to running a successful business, few can outweigh the importance of successful contract negotiation. This single element can determine everything from a businesses’s profit margin for each transaction to the legal recourse that a business owner may take if a client or partner infringes on the company’s intellectual property. As such, it is critical that company owners understand the elements of effective business contract negotiation.

Examining the Five Elements of Contract Negotiation 

An effective business contract should do more than simply state the terms of an agreement; it should detail a reasonable arrangement that mutually benefits all involved parties, and it should clearly define the environment and conditions under which the parties are willing to operate. To reach such an agreement, business owners are encouraged to implement all five elements of contract negotiation, which include:

  1. Prepare for the Negotiation Process - To create a mutually beneficial contract, you must first prepare for the negotiation process. Start by determining their strengths and weaknesses and determine how they might use these in negotiations. Consider your own strengths and weaknesses as well, and determine your aims for the contract (what do you want to accomplish?). Also, know your deal-breakers and decide what you are willing to compromise on during the negotiation process;
  2. Clarify the Details - Once you have an idea of what should be in the contract (these are the terms under which you are willing to operate), it is important to ensure you closely examine all of the details. Are your conditions and expectations clear? Are the financial terms easy to understand? Is there any verbiage that may confuse your potential client? When does the contract come into effect, and when does it end? What happens if one party defaults on their part of the contract, and is that clearly stated? For best results, have your attorney examine the details and wording of the contract, as they can help you avoid potential loopholes and confusing or cloudy terms or details;
  3. Exert Pressure to Encourage Contract Signing - Parties typically only sign a contract when they feel confident that they can benefit from the contract and its terms – but a successful negotiation should take it one step further. The other party should feel as though they are losing something by not signing the contract. Know your market, your other options, and ensure you have a seasoned attorney to assist you with this element. 
  4. Offer Concessions (When and Why) - Concessions are not an automatic element in contract negotiations. Instead, they are usually added at the end, when parties feel a deal is possible and they are ready to close. Try to offer concessions that provide a great deal of benefit to your partner at a low cost to you, and determine if the concessions offered by the other party are beneficial enough to your company;
  5. Close the Deal - Once all the parties agree on the major aspects of the contract, it is important to close the deal. By not asking when you are truly interested and see a possible future for your partnership, you leave money on the table. 

Contact Our Wheaton Small Business Lawyers

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we understand the challenges that small businesses face because we are one ourselves. Backed by more than 40 years of experience, our seasoned DuPage County small business attorneys can protect your company’s interests during contract negotiations, and we can assist you in closing the deal. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule your consultation with our offices to get started today. 

Source:

https://smallbusiness.chron.com/negotiate-business-contract-61994.html

An Overview of Illinois’ Landlord-Tenant Laws

Illinois landlord lawyersWhile, in most cases, a landlord and tenant can complete the term of a lease without issue, there are scenarios in which legal assistance may be needed, either by the landlord or the tenant. Some even require the assistance of an attorney. To help you determine if you might be facing such an issue, consider the following overview on Illinois’ landlord-tenant laws.

Required Leasing Disclosures for Landlords

Under Illinois state law, landlords are required to disclose specific information to tenants. Usually, done through the lease agreement, this information includes: 

  • Utilities that are included in the price of rent (paid by the landlord but billed to the tenant);
  • Rent concessions must be detailed in a very specific manner. If a landlord fails to comply with this law, they could face both civil and criminal penalties;
  • Presence of radon (if applicable). Landlords are not required to test for radon, but if they test and find it is present, they must disclose this to any prospective tenant; and
  • Any local city or county disclosures that may be required by law.

Security Deposit Limits and Returns 

While Illinois state law does not limit the amount that a landlord can charge for a security deposit, it does require that any returns be made in a timely manner (usually 30-45 days after the tenant moves out). If a deposit will not be returned, due to damages or unpaid rent, landlords are encouraged to submit to the tenant an itemized list that explains any charges for which they are responsible. Tenants have the right to dispute any charges that they incur, and they have the right to take the matter to small claims court for up to $10,000 in unreturned deposits, but the assistance of an attorney is recommended for this process. If the landlord does not return a deposit but holds it for six or more months, they may be responsible for paying the tenant interest on any unreturned security deposits. 

Notice Requirements on Price Changes, Evictions, and Lease Termination

Certain rent and leasing notices are regulated by state law, including increases to rent prices, evictions, and termination of tenancy. Specifically, landlords must notify tenants:

  • 30 days prior to a change in rent prices;
  • 5-10 days to pay rent before filing for eviction for a non-payment of rent; and
  • 10 days for a notice to end tenancy when a term of the lease has been violated.

Tenant Protections and a Landlord’s Right to Access Property

State law also protects both landlords and tenants in certain situations. For example, a landlord has the right to inspect the property, but they must provide the tenant with advance notice before entering the property. There are also laws regarding how a landlord must handle property that has been abandoned by a previous tenant. Protections for tenants who are victims of domestic violence or have certain disabilities are also covered under Illinois’ landlord-tenant laws. 

Our DuPage County Real Estate Attorneys Can Help with Your Landlord-Tenant Issue

Backed by more than 40 years of legal experience, Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC can assist with your landlord-tenant issues. In every situation, we strive for the most favorable outcome possible. Contact our Wheaton real estate lawyers at 630-665-2500 to schedule your consultation today. 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2913&ChapterID=37

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2206&ChapterID=62

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2208&ChapterID=62

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2202&ChapterID=62