Proudly Serving Ogle County for 30 Years!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. Do I need a will if I'm not wealthy? Won't my family automatically get everything?
A. The rule of thumb is: If you have children or you own anything, you need a will. Here's why: If you have children under the age of 18, through a will you can dictate who will be responsible to raise them if something happens to you and your spouse. With a will, you can decide at what age your children inherit; you can also decide who will manage the money until the children reach the age of inheritance. (Without a directive from you, they will inherit - perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps much more - at age 18. Think about yourself at 18: Were you responsible enough to handle that amount of money?)

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If you pass away without a will, the State will determine how your property is distributed. It may or may not pass on to your family members. (In some states, cousins can petition for a share of an estate absent a will excluding them.) A properly drafted and executed will ensures that your plan of passing property upon your death is accomplished. Also, a will allows you to choose your executor - the person who will oversee your final affairs and transfer your property in accordance with your wishes.

Just as important, a structured estate plan can help ensure that your estate is not probated upon your death. This can preserve thousands of dollars for your heirs, and prevent a great deal of frustration for grieving families.

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Q. Why should I have Powers of Attorney?
A. You should have Powers of Attorney in place no matter your age or your current state of health because we rarely know if/when we might become disabled, even temporarily. Powers of Attorney are designed to ensure that if you become disabled, the person or persons you want to handle your affairs on your behalf will be able to do so. Otherwise, Illinois laws or the courts may end up deciding who will act on your behalf.

Illinois divides Powers of Attorney into two categories - health care and financial. Through a Healthcare Power of Attorney, you may indicate what level of treatment you want if your condition becomes terminal and you are no longer capable of making decisions. Financial Power of Attorney allows your bills to be paid and other financial decisions to be made by a responsible party should you become unable to do so yourself.

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Q. I have a will that was written several years ago. That's the only will I'll ever need, right?
A. Not necessarily. Your will should be reviewed by an experienced estate planning lawyer every few years. Your attorney will be abreast of changes in state and federal law that might impact your will. He or she also knows the types of life changes that should trigger modifications in your will. Often, we can simply add "codicils" to modify your original will.

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Q. What's the best way for me to make my business "legal?"
A. A lawyer working with you and your tax adviser can help you decide which form of business - Corporation, Limited Liability Company, or Sole Proprietorship - best fits your needs. Properly filing the correct documents with the State and with the Internal Revenue Service is crucial to protecting your business. Once the plan is in place, a lawyer can help you maintain your business by assuring that your annual legal requirements are met.

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Q. Do I need a lawyer when I buy or sell a house or other real estate?
A. A lawyer is a necessary part of any contract to sell or purchase real estate. A lawyer can review the contract to ensure that it is legally sufficient and says what you intend. Particularly with real estate contracts, the written contract will control the transaction no matter what may have been said by the Seller, the Buyer or others.

An experienced real estate lawyer also will review the results of the title search by the title company to ensure that the title is free of "clouds" or liens. Your attorney will review all the prepared documents prior to your closing appointment and will attend the closing. Many times, unexpected "kinks" do not reveal themselves until the closing appointment. If your attorney is present, those kinks can usually be worked out without delay.

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Q. I have to appear in court on a minor traffic charge? I don't need a lawyer, do I?
A. No, you don't However, it's important to keep in mind that even minor traffic citations can have serious impact on the status of your driver's license. This is especially true for young drivers, for drivers who have prior traffic infractions on their record, or those who drive for a living. An experienced criminal court lawyer will help you determine your risk; if retained, your attorney will work to negotiate a disposition that minimizes the impact on your driving privileges.

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Q. My spouse and I are divorcing - it's amicable, we seem to agree on everything. Do we really need a lawyer? Can we use the same lawyer to save money?
A: In Illinois, it is not legal for a lawyer to represent both spouses in a divorce. Often, divorcing spouses believe they have worked out all the important issues and that there are no conflicts or disagreements; however, an experienced family law lawyer will ensure that a divorce judgment or agreement resolves all matters.

Your attorney will not only evaluate all the circumstances that exist at the time of the divorce but will look years ahead - a divorcing 30-year-old might be able to retain rights to a portion of a spouse's retirement funds, for example. Issues that are not properly covered by a divorce judgment can cause problems many years later; often, they cannot be fixed.

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Floski Law Office, LLC . 220 W. Third . Byron, Illinois . 815.234.5454 . dfloski@byronlaw.com