Can your life insurance company take advantage of you?

Can your life insurance company take advantage of you?

Recently, I watched a 60-minute news story about how some of the largest life insurance companies don’t pay benefits even when they know the policyholder has died. Insurance companies claim that it is up to policyholders’ beneficiaries to contact the insurance company and to file a claim in order to collect whatever death benefit may be due them. But if beneficiaries are unaware of the policy, they don’t know to file a claim. Do you want to know another scary fact? The news reported that on some whole life insurance policies, even when the insurance company knew the client was dead, they still deducted the monthly premiums from the client’s account. So, what is the point of paying years of insurance premiums when your family may not collect the death benefit? This is just another example of why it pays to be organized with your estate planning. After I draft my clients’ estate plans, I encourage everyone to make a list of all accounts that are in their name and keep a copy with their estate planning documents. That way if something happens, the executor or trustee knows where to look and what companies to contact. For one reason or another, many people are afraid to tell their friends and family members exactly what their estate planning documents say. You really do not have to tell everyone everything. At a bare minimum, you should tell the person whom you have listed as trustee or executor of your estate where are your estate planning documents located and how they can access them. There is no point for you to spend...
Upcoming Retirement Workshops

Upcoming Retirement Workshops

Calling all retirees!!  I have partnered with Scott Sirens from Sierens Financial Group and will be speaking at two retirement workshops on Monday March 27th and Wednesday March 29th.  The workshop will be a comprehensive two hour presentation covering everything from financial planning in retirement through common estate planning techniques.  Please come out to this free event for an informative time.  Details are below but you may always contact us with any questions. Monday March 27, 2017 1pm-3pm Geneva History Museum 113 S. Third St Geneva, IL  60134 Wednesday March 29, 2017 10am-12pm(noon) Hickory Knolls Discovery Center 3795 Campton Hills Rd St. Charles, IL ...
Top Five Provisions to check before signing a Real Estate Contract!!!

Top Five Provisions to check before signing a Real Estate Contract!!!

When the time comes for you to sell your home it may seem like a very daunting process. If you are using a realtor, he or she should have the contract properly filled out before you sign anything (if you are not using a realtor, I can make sure the contract is filled out correctly for you). However, the contract is a 13 page document that you have never seen before and with which you are not familiar. What should you check before signing it? Below are the top five provisions you should review before signing your real estate contract: FIVE PROVISIONS TO CHECK BEFORE SIGNING A CONTRACT Purchase price Personal property to be transferred Real estate tax proration Plat of survey inspections Closing cost credits, if any If you review those five specific provisions and all five of them seem correct, you are safe to go ahead and sign the contract. If the seller accepts it by signing it, forward the fully signed contract to your real estate attorney as quickly as possible. There is a short time period during which your attorney can propose changes to any of the provisions that may be incorrect in the contract. This is called the attorney review period. Don’t worry if you feel this is too daunting a process to handle yourself, let us become the law firm that you know, like, and trust by handling it for you. Your time is just as important as mine, that is why all meetings are by appointment only at either one of my convenient office locations: 200 West Main Street, St. Charles, Illinois...
What does a Donald Trump presidency mean for Estate Planning?

What does a Donald Trump presidency mean for Estate Planning?

Following the election of Republican candidate Donald Trump as well as the GOP’s retainment of a Congressional majority, significant tax reform has a distinctly higher probability of occurring now than it had under previous administrations. This is largely due to Donald Trump’s tax plan being substantially in agreement with the Tax Reform Tax Force Blueprint proposed by Republicans; both intend to have the alternate minimum tax eliminated, repeal the current estate tax, reduce & simplify income tax brackets, and lower taxes on businesses. Alternatively, Republicans could propose a budget reconciliation bill as a more stable solution, but since it necessitates an approved budget that is unlikely due to its inefficiency. Trump’s administration is also anticipated to affect a small number of regulatory initiatives, the two most prominent being the regulations regarding consistent basis reporting and the proposed regulations under Section 2704 of the Internal Revenue Code. The first of these regulations was announced by the IRS on March 4, 2016; this regulation would be administered in order to guarantee “a recipient’s basis in certain property acquired from a decedent be consistent with the value of the property as finally determined for Federal estate tax purposes.” The second was published by the Treasury Department on August 4, 2016, which proposed intricate regulations on valuation discounts for family-owned businesses under 2704; these regulations were deemed by the vast majority to be beyond the Treasury’s authoritative reach, as well as potential threat to family-owned businesses. These proposed regulations are intertwined with the federal estate tax; in the event that the estate tax is repealed, these regulations will no longer be applicable. With...
Do I need an attorney to purchase a new construction home?

Do I need an attorney to purchase a new construction home?

A lot of people are attracted to the comfort of buying a brand new home. The homebuilder makes it so easy now. You get to pick the land and customize the house just the way you want it. They may even make the sale offer extra enticing with additional “discounts” if you use their lender and title insurance company. When you have all the necessary components in front of you, some buyers may feel wrapped in a fake blanket of security. So, the question is, do you need an attorney when buying new construction? The simplest answer depends on how much you trust the title insurance company and lender. When purchasing a new construction home without an attorney, on closing day, you will go to the title office, sit down, and a title agent will place a large stack of papers in front of you. The title agent may tell you where to sign your name on each legal document, but she is not required to and will most likely not explain the documents. Once you sign all the documents, she will send them to your lender for approval. No one there will double-check the transfer documents i.e. deed and HUD form, to make sure they are correct. On more than one occasion, I have found a dollar error made by either the title insurance company or lender in favor of my client. If I weren’t there, the client would have been out that money. In those instances, the error that I found and corrected amounted to more than my attorney fee . So, how much do you really...
Big News…We are expanding

Big News…We are expanding

It is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce a second office location for my clients. Over the past couple of years I have tried my hardest to give my clients a great legal service along with a friendly and accepting environment. Well, my past clients have spoken loud enough with numerous positive reviews and the professional world has noticed. Starting immediately, I have taken a position as, Of Counsel, for VLK Law Firm located at 200 West Main Street, Suite 102, St. Charles, IL 60174. What does this mean for you and for me? It means that you will be getting a better client experience with the option of meeting me at two different locations: downtown Elgin or downtown St. Charles. It means that I will have a better support staff with VLK on my side. And finally, it means that if you have a legal problem of any kind, think of Lauren Jackson Law, and we will be able to find the right attorney for your...