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Illinois estate planning: Start with a will

No one wants to think about one's own mortality. It can be a depressing subject. Failing to think about it, though, can hurt oneself and one's family in the end. Illinois residents who are not ready to dive head first into the estate planning process can grant themselves and their loved ones some protection by at least having a valid will in place.

Anyone can write up a document on the computer, stating his or her final wishes and call it a will, but it will not be considered valid in court. A will must be signed in front of witnesses to be valid. A home-written will may also not provide all the protections one desires. At the end of the day, wording matters when it comes to legal documents. The wrong wording or a lack of specific information can make a will useless.

Credit card debt amassed during the holidays can be dangerous

The holiday season is all about family and giving. Unfortunately, many Illinois residents may go into serious credit card debt during this time of year. This can be avoided by being careful about spending. Those who have dug themselves into a hole too big to get out of on their own can turn to legal counsel for debt relief assistance.

According to a recent report, the average shopper is going to spend just short of $800 this year on gifts. That may not sound like a lot to some, but it certainly does add up -- especially if one already has other debts piling up. How are people paying for their holiday gifts? Primarily with credit cards. There is nothing wrong with that, though it is believed that 28 percent of credit card holders are still working toward paying off credit card bills from the holidays last year.

How to recognize debt settlement scams

As someone currently facing increasingly overwhelming credit card debt, you may be weighing your options and trying to figure out the best way to get your finances back in order. Credit card debt can prove increasingly problematic because of the monthly interest charges associated with it, which make it compound, and you may be feeling more and more desperate as creditors come looking for what you owe them.

Once your debt becomes too much to handle on your own, you may start considering options such as filing for bankruptcy, negotiating with your creditors or utilizing the services of a debt settlement agency. The third option can prove particularly risky, however, as some companies that offer debt settlement programs are unethical in their practices, potentially placing you even further into debt.

Thinking about Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Take the means test

Does the thought of having debt cleared give one hope for the future? It certainly sounds good when one is struggling to make payments to creditors. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can accomplish this, but one must qualify for this type of bankruptcy filing. How can Illinois residents find out if they qualify?

In order to figure out if a Chapter 7 filing is a possibility, one can take a means test. This test can be found online or can be obtained from a bankruptcy attorney. This is not a difficult test and it is pretty easy to read as well.

Executor of an estate? Get help getting through probate

Illinois residents who have never played the role of executor of a loved one's estate may be confused as to what they need to do. Being an executor is not a small thing. One in this position has a big job and is responsible for getting the estate through the probate process and distributed to beneficiaries. Luckily, those picked as executors do not have to work through the probate process alone. They can seek help.

Serving as an executor may be viewed as a privilege or a burden. Some people are not cut out for all it entails. Those in this position must be ready to:

  • Find and inventory assets
  • Find estate planning documents -- if there are any
  • Open a probate case -- if necessary
  • Contact beneficiaries and creditors
  • Submit final income taxes for the deceased
  • Pay the deceased's taxes and debts
  • Handle any claims made against the estate
  • Divide assets among beneficiaries
  • Officially close the estate

Chapter 13: Fight overbiffing, seek an affordable repayment plan

Many Illinois residents have bills that they struggle to pay. A good number of these individuals are frequently being called and harassed by debt collectors. Some of these debt collectors may be trying to collect more than people actually owe. With the help of a bankruptcy law attorney and through a Chapter 13 filing, Illinois residents can fight back against creditor harassment and seek an affordable debt repayment plan.

Unfair debt collection practices are not new. Debt collectors are always looking for ways to get people to pay. Overbiffing is the latest trend. It has gotten so bad that the Federal Trade Commission has had to step in and investigate debt collection firms accused of this behavior.

Understanding Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Illinois residents dealing with unmanageable debt may look at various options for healing their finances. Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is one avenue of debt relief some may benefit from.

Understanding some fundamental points about how a Chapter 13 filing works can help you consider whether this path is right for you. 

Those with unsteady income often have more credit card debt

Numerous Illinois residents are self-employed or jump from job to job. Their incomes may be far from steady, which means they may need a little help to make ends meet. Enter credit cards. Those with unsteady income often have more credit card debt than individuals who have steady income.

It does not take long for credit card debt to get out of hand. When a credit card is used to pay for just about everything and one is not paying off the balance or keeping track of how often the card is used, the bill may come as quite a shock. There are steps one can take to lower one's credit card debt, but a lot of advice out there does not seem to work for those who lack stable income.

Short sale, an alternative to foreclosure

Illinois residents who are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments but are underwater in their mortgages may feel trapped in their homes. They do not want to lose their homes to foreclosure, but they may not see another way out. For some, a short sale may be the answer.

What exactly is a short sale? This is where the bank agrees to accept an offer of sale on a home for less than the current owner's loan amount. Say one's home loan totals $300,000 but the current market value of the home is only $250,000. The owner places the house for sale and receives an offer at $250,000 and asks the bank to accept it and write off the difference. If the bank agrees and the sale moves forward, this is called a short sale. 

The good and bad of Chapter 7 bankruptcy

When Illinois residents are struggling to meet their financial obligations, they may actively seek out debt relief options that may be open to them. For some, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the best fit. Of course, before jumping on board and submitting a filing, it is good to know exactly what one is signing up for.

The truth is, there are both good and bad things about Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It is not a perfect process, though it can offer relief to those who qualify for it. One simply needs to weigh the pros and cons of pursuing this form of bankruptcy in order to determine if it is the right move for his or her situation.

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Lisle, IL 60532

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Fax: 888-691-8337
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