Howard & Hardyman LLP

Rockford Illinois Business Law and Estate Planning Legal Blog

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. 

Key designations for estate holders in blended families

An estate plan is a way for people to ensure the proper designation of their property when they pass on. To do this effectively, there are several things to consider when creating an estate plan.

For those in blended families, there are specific, critical designations. To create a quality estate plan, become familiar with these designations.

How do you develop a business succession plan?

You may not intend to retire for many more years, but life can be unpredictable for Illinois business owners. According to FindLaw, a business succession plan can mean the difference between continued success or tragic failure for your company in the event of your unexpected death or incapacitation. If your business is family operated, the lack of a succession plan may spark a feud, and both your business and your family may suffer as a result. 

When planning for the future, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some ideas to help you formulate a strategy for developing and implementing a business succession plan.

Understanding intestate succession

Despite the repeated suggestions offered by estate planning experts, many in Rockford are ill-prepared in regards to the issue of estate administration. Even something as simple as making a will is often overlooked. Indeed, study data shared by the American Association of Retired Persons shows that only four out of every 10 American adults has a will. Yet many may avoid preparing a will out of fear that their beneficiaries will be angered by their decisions. They may simply think it to be better to allow said beneficiaries to decide amongst themselves who gets what once they are gone. 

Unfortunately, that is not an option. The state has developed intestate succession guidelines that determine how estate assets are to be dispersed when one dies without making a will. According to the Illinois Probate Act, in such a scenario, the entirety of one's estate would go to their surviving spouse if they have no direct descendants. If they do have children or grandchildren still alive (and were also survived by a spouse), then half of the estate goes to the surviving spouse, and the remaining half to the descendants (to be split equally amongst them). If one has no surviving spouse, then their entire estate would go their descendants. 

Business formation types that limit personal liability

Regardless of the nature of the type of business you are looking to establish in Illinois, you will find that there are areas involved in its operations that could potentially expose you to liability. For some types of businesses, such as those involving food service or transportation, the risks are relatively obvious, but virtually every type of business out there has at least a few areas where it might be at risk. At Howard & Hardyman LLP, we recognize that certain business structures can help protect you against personal liability, and we have helped many business owners create business structures well-suited to their needs.

Per QuickBooks, there are two main business structures that can protect you if someone sues or files a judgment against your business. The first is the limited liability company. As its name implies, a limited liability company helps protect your personal assets in the event that your business gets into trouble, and it is a relatively easy business structure to create and operate.

What is probate?

For those in Illinois taking the responsible step of writing a will, the term "probate" can be confusing. According to FindLaw, probate refers to the process of legally transferring your property after you die. However, the term can also refer to the court in which this process takes place. The purpose of probate is to ensure the validity of your will, settle any debts you leave behind and distribute your assets and property according to your wishes in accordance with the law. Because probate can be an expensive and time-consuming process, however, many people try to avoid it. 

The probate process includes several basic steps. First, the executor or court-appointed administrator of your estate collects your property, including any dividends or income. Then the executor or administrator pays any taxes, debts or claims your estate owes. In most cases, the executor or administrator of your estate will then transfer your property in the manner you have stipulated.

3 tips for writing good business contracts

Entering into contracts is a crucial aspect of running a business. Whether you enter into an agreement with another company or have an employee sign a contract, you must give each contractual relationship careful consideration. If you do not follow strict procedures, and the relationship goes south, you may get stuck in legal trouble. 

Each contract you sign should protect the interests of your organization. Here are some good strategies for creating contracts for your business.  

How can I equally distribute my assets to my children?

As an Illinois parent, you want to be fair to each of your children when, upon your death, your assets are distributed to them. But as you draft your will, you find problems with giving your children equal shares of what you have. For instance, you may own a sailing ship but two of your children enjoy boating activities. So how can you give your children an equal share of your boat when you possess just one boat? Sometimes it is not possible to equally distribute all of your assets to your children, which can put you in a troublesome situation.

An article run in U.S. News and World Report recommends that people in this position ask their children for their input. Make a number of things clear to your children when you talk to them. First, point out that a fully equitable distribution of your assets is not possible given what you own. Whether it is a piece of art, a television set, a car, or jewelry, you have to acknowledge that only one child could receive each of these assets.

What to consider when creating the name of your business

There are many important decisions that go into creating an Illinois business, from the structure of the company to the responsibilities of the people who run it. However, keep in mind that you should put just as much consideration into what you would actually call the business. In fact, the wrong name for your business might cause you some legal problems down the line. 

As Entruepeuner.com points out, the name of your company should sound pleasant to the human ear. You do not want a business name that sounds too grating or is hard for a person to speak. Consider your advertising plans. How well do you think your company's name will sound when spoken on the radio or television? Remember that your name has to hook the ears of media listeners or viewers. An abrasive name will likely turn off potential customers.

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