DECEDENT ESTATES

The Illinois probate process is a court-supervised legal procedure that is sometimes (but not always) required after someone dies. Its purpose is to clarify who inherits the deceased person’s property and to make sure valid debts and taxes are paid. Probate is handled by the deceased person’s executor, if they had a will, or the court appointed administrator if they didn’t have a will. Either way, this person is called the Representative and they must:

• prove in court that a deceased person's will is valid if applicable

• identify and inventory the deceased person's assets

• have those assets appraised

• pay debts and taxes, and

• distribute the remaining property as directed by the will, or if there's no will, as Illinois state law directs.

This can be a long expensive process. It can take 6 months to a little over a year or longer.

Whether or not a formal probate proceeding is required depends on what assets the deceased person owned, and how he or she held title to them. Estate Planning is an important factor which could greatly help in streamlining the probate process.

If there was proper estate planning, many assets do not need to go through probate, including:

• assets held in trust

• assets owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety

• assets that have a beneficiary named

• real estate subject to an Illinois transfer-on-death deed

• assets that can be distributed through a small estate affidavit

For more information on how to handle your loved one’s estate, please call The Evans Williams Law Group to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.

CHILD SUPPORT

Recently, Illinois changed the way that child support is calculated by adopting the “income shares” model of child support. According to the income shares model, courts determine the amount of combined child support owed, by taking into account the combined income of the parents, the cost of living, and the number of children involved.

The next step is to determine how much each parent contributes. Basically, the child support is going to be based on who makes more, and whether one parent spends a lot more time with the child than the other parent. However, if both parents spend at least 146 overnights with the child, child support is calculated differently.

Illinois courts can deviate from the guidelines if the court finds that doing so would be in the best interest of the child. In order to determine whether deviation from the guidelines would be in the best interest of the child, courts weigh the following five factors:

1. The child’s own financial resources and needs;

2. Each parent’s financial resources and needs;

3. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents not separated;

4. The physical and emotional health of the child; and

5. The child’s educational needs.

If one parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court can consider that parent’s potential income to determine their child support obligation. You can go to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services website and use their child support calculator, to get an estimate of the amount of child support you may owe or receive. They also have other helpful resources to explain how the Income Shares Model works. To talk to an experienced attorney about your child support matter, please call The Evans Williams Law Group to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.

Business Formation

The sole proprietorship requires no formalities, no documents to execute, and no separate bank accounts or tax returns. Many new business owners think about choosing to operate as a sole proprietor because it’s easy to get started. But since there is no separate legal identity from its owner, the sole proprietor will be personally liable for many things that can happen in the business, even if the business no longer exists. Now we’ll look at General Partnership. A General Partnership is an association of two or more persons or entities that conduct a business as co-owners. The partners invest capital and share in the profits and losses of the partnership. The partners are agents for each other, which means that if a partner enters into an agreement, it binds the other partner as well. The partnership is a separate legal entity, but partners can be liable on the partnership level and in some situations, on the individual level. Just as a note, limited partnerships allow one partner to have less liability and responsibility than the other.

A more complex option is a Corporation. Corporations allow the business owner to create a separate legal entity to conduct business. The corporation can raise money for the business by issuing and selling shares of stock that are owned by the corporation. The purchasers of the shares then become shareholders in the corporation but are not personally responsible for the corporation’s liabilities. The corporate form protects the business owner by shielding their personal assets from liability.

Finally, let’s discuss the Limited Liability Company. The LLC blends elements of the corporation and a partnership. LLC’s are very flexible and business owners can spell out virtually all aspects of the company’s management structure in its operating agreement. The profits and losses flow through to the personal tax return of the members of the LLC. Many start-up or small businesses today, choose the LLC because of its flexibility, limitation of liability, and reduced formalities.

There are many types of for profit and non for-profit business entities. The kind of business entity that you choose, and the people you choose to go into business with, are very important decisions to make. For more information on forming your for profit or non-profit business entity, please call The Evans Williams Law Group to schedule a consultation. We look forward to doing business with you.

Allocation of Parenting Responsibilities

In 2016, Illinois did away with the term “custody” and replaced it with “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Essentially, what this means is that the state took all of the parental responsibility issues commonly dealt with in a child custody case, and assigned responsibility to either or both parents.

According to the statute, the court considers parental responsibility to include two factors:

  1. Decision-making responsibilities; and
  2. Parenting time

 

As it relates to decision making responsibilities, the court separates them into four major areas of a child’s life:

  1. Education
  2. Health
  3. Religion
  4. Extracurricular activities

 

In determining who gets to make the decisions for the child, the court will do what it thinks is in the best interest of the child. There are 15 specific factors considered by the court. I won’t state all of them now, but some include:

  1. The wishes of the child,
  2. The wishes of the parents;
  3. The child’s needs;

 

With respect to parenting time, the court will also do what is in the best interest of the child. However, in addition to the factors used to determine parental responsibilities, the courts also consider three more factors in determining parenting time:

  1. The amount of time each parent has spent taking care of the child over the past two years;
  2. The relationship of the child with his or her parents or siblings or anyone else who may affect the child’s best interests; and
  3. Whether a restriction on parenting time is appropriate.

 

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities is the new custody. When dealing with these issues through the courts, you need attorneys who can explain the process and help you make good decisions for your family.  To get more information, please contact The Evans Williams Law Group to set up a consultation.

Cathe Evans Williams

Managing Attorney

TEWLG Twitter