Howard & Hardyman LLP

Rockford Illinois Business Law and Estate Planning Legal Blog

Will or trust: Which should you choose?

When preparing to create an estate plan, you have a lot on your mind. For starters, you have decisions to make regarding administration of the plan, questions about how it all works and reservations about the entire process.

You have heard of wills and trusts and may have always thought of them as the same thing. However, major differences exist between these two types of estate documents, from what their purposes are to when they go into effect.

How can you plan the end of your business after your death?

When you pass away, it may not just affect the people you love. In some cases, it can have a profound effect on your business. This is especially true if you are central to your business. According to Entrepreneur, a business that is dependent on its owner and cannot survive without the owner is called an owner-dependent business. If you have an owner-dependent business, you must prepare for what happens with it when you die.

Because you are central to your business, nobody can take over for you. In a true owner-dependent business, you will not have a partner either. Upon your death, the business will no longer operate. Your heirs may be able to sell off equipment or other aspects of the business and you will need to leave instructions for that.

Divorce and estate plan revision

Couples may decide to bring their marriage to an end for all sorts of reasons, such as incompatibility or infidelity. Our law office knows how challenging divorce can be, especially for those with significant assets or kids. However, there are other legal matters that you may need to take into consideration if you are dealing with the end of your marriage. For example, estate plan revision may be necessary for a number of reasons. If you need to make changes to your estate, it is imperative to promptly address any areas of concern and make sure that your estate plan matches your wishes.

Following a divorce, some people may need to remove their former marital partner as a beneficiary. However, this is not the only reason why revising an estate plan may be necessary due to divorce. Some people may want to remove their former spouse's children from their estate plan and changes may also need to be made because an ex was listed as the executor of an estate. It is imperative to ensure that your estate plan suits your needs and will result in the disbursement of your assets in accordance with your wishes.

Life insurance and probate: what you need to know

Adults in the Rockford area explore many avenues to pass on assets after they die. One of those ways is to take out a life insurance policy that will pay out upon the death of the policy holder. However, who you name as a beneficiary can present issues that you may not expect for your survivors and your estate. You may even end up allowing your insurance policy to go through probate.

On some occasions, policy holders do not name a beneficiary on a life insurance policy at all. But according to the Motley Fool, by neglecting to name somebody to receive the benefits, your policy would likely become part of your estate. The benefits of the policy would transfer to the estate, which means the policy would pass through probate. It also puts your policy at risk for creditors to claim it.

The pros and cons of starting a new business

For various reasons, some Illinois entrepreneurs will find it more attractive to buy an existing business than to build a new operation from the ground up. However, there are solid rationales to put your time and resources into forming a new business. If you understand the challenges involved in starting a new business as well as the benefits, you can make an informed decision.

Buying an existing business is beneficial in that you can inherit a qualified workforce and an operation that makes a healthy profit margin. But as Incfile points out, if there are problems with the workforce, such as lazy employees, you may have to root out the bad apples, even if it creates some anxiety among the existing workers who wonder if they are next to go. Also, if the company is not doing well, you will have to invest time and resources to shore the outfit up.

3 life events that mean you should review your estate plan

People work hard to amass various assets through businesses and organize them in estates. As such, it is only right that someone should get to choose what happens to their belongings.

An estate plan helps people gain control over the future of their holdings. To ensure that the strategy aligns with the estate holder's wishes, it is often essential to review and possibly revise plans after certain life events.

Should I buy an existing business?

Many entrepreneurs face a basic question. Should they build a whole new business from the ground up, or is buying an existing company the better option? There are several important benefits to purchasing an Illinois company instead of building a new one. However, buying a company is not free of pitfalls. The key to making the best decision is to know both the upside and downside to a company purchase. explains that generally you are exposing yourself to less risk purchasing an existing company than if you build your own business. An established company already has employees, modes of operation, a client base, and an existing cash flow that ideally is producing profits. If you make a smart buy, you are gaining a company that is already successful in the market.

Safeguarding your family and your assets

You could benefit from having a solid estate plan in place. We are confident in that statement for many reasons, but mostly because we believe planning ahead is a good way for nearly everybody to help their loved ones navigate complex issues. However, there are many ways to deal with estates in Illinois. Many find that the process becomes complicated very quickly. To ease this confusion, we make a point of pairing the right strategies with each client we take on here at Howard and Hardyman LLP.

We found that our individualized method benefits our clients in more ways than one. First, they tend to get the estate plan that maximizes there return and fits their goals. A secondary benefit -- but one that we believe is almost as well appreciated as the first -- is that the best options come first in our discussions, along with solid proposals for action. 

Is estate planning complicated?

Illinois residents will approach estate planning with different levels of knowledge and experience. While planning out the future of their estate is a breeze for some people, for others, the steps and terminology involved will seem daunting to figure out. Fortunately, you can rely on the expertise of a qualified estate planner to get you through the process, but pitfalls may remain if you are not careful.

Forbes explains that a professional estate planner can take you through the process of setting up your plans to pass your estate along to your heirs. Basically, you do not have to come up with each step yourself. The job of the planner is to compose a plan that fulfills all of your needs. When the overall plan is ready, you would then sign off on it.

When and how to form a corporation

It is the same in Illinois as it is anywhere; success in business has the potential to draw some unwanted attention. Businesses that risk lawsuits from competitors or losses from uncertain opportunities often incorporate to reduce this liability. However, there are many significant decisions associated with the process that could affect the future success of an organization.

The process of incorporation is probably unlike anything most small business owners have done before. The simpler types of companies — LLCs and sole proprietorships, for example — may be challenging to operate and organize. Their formation may even be somewhat difficult for those not acquainted with the required steps. Corporations pose all of these issues and more. 

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • WCBA | Winnebago County | Bar Association | Established 1996
  • United States Court Of Appeals | Seventh Circuit
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • United States District Court For The Northern District Of Illusions
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