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We all can learn important lessons about estate planning from recent “bad” experiences of famous people. The AARP recently gathered their stories, and here are the highlights: Florence Griffith Joyner: Before her death in 1998, Olympic gold medalist Florence Griffith Joyner never told anyone the location of her will. Without the original document, it took…

Medical and financial powers of attorney are a critical aspect of effective estate planning, but are you keeping your documents up to date? It is recommended to have them reviewed every 2-3 years. Several legislative changes over the years have given financial institutions and healthcare providers reasons to reject powers of attorney. As new laws…

As a rule, the IRS treats any transfer of money or property you make to another person (vs. to a charity or to a political organization) as a taxable gift – unless an exclusion applies. Three typical exclusions that may apply are: (1) gifts to a spouse, which are subject to an unlimited marital deduction…

As 2017 draws to an end, you should verify (and, if needed, update) primary and contingent beneficiary designations for all your retirement plan assets, for example: individual retirement accounts (IRAs and Roth IRAs), 401(k) accounts with current and former employers, 403(b) accounts, and pensions plans. This simple step can save a lot of delays, uncertainty,…

A recent survey by senior-living focused website Caring.com, quoted in USA Today, revealed that 78 percent of Americans under the age of 36 don’t have a will or trust in place. But even with youth on their side, the millennial generation needs to be planning for the unforeseen. If most would consider the following three…

Passing your house on to your children before your death offers some advantages, but there are pitfalls to avoid. If your children inherit the property through your estate, the cost basis of the property will be the value of the home on the day of your death (as with most assets that pass at death)….

Persons can give away property valued at $5.49 million without federal estate and gift tax (including $4 million without Illinois estate tax) during lifetime or at death. Proper estate planning and follow up by a married couple can double the tax-free amount available at the death of the second to die. Since 2010, a surviving…

A minor generally doesn’t have the right to manage his or her assets, including an inheritance. But sometimes a minor child becomes the beneficiary of a sizable family inheritance. That can occur because a parent dies without a will or trust, leading to an unavoidable direct inheritance by the child. If a minor is chosen…

Patrick recently moderated a Business Succession Planning seminar by Bob and other experts to a group of lawyers. Here are some highlights: Many business owners and professionals have not done any succession planning to address who will manage and own the business when the owner is disabled or dies. Thoughtful planning helps the owner achieve…

A strong cybersecurity program is designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of a business’s information systems. These systems can include any computer or networked electronic system used by a business, and certain sensitive business and consumer information. Programs should be designed to perform three primary functions: Identify and assess threats and risks; Protect information systems…

Recent tax developments may save substantial taxes for your clients’ beneficiaries (post-death). Since 2010, a surviving spouse can claim their deceased spouse’s unused estate and gift tax credit shelter amount (“estate and gift tax exemption”) of $5,000,000 or more by filing a federal estate tax return (Form 706) within nine months after death to secure…

Under a new federal law, individuals have a right to post truthful negative reviews about a product or service provider. That’s the case even if they previously signed an agreement that prohibited such reviews. Over the past few years, this controversial business practice of including non-disparagement clauses in contracts or terms of service has led…

It’s a big year for the first set of baby boomers: They’re turning 70 1/2. And that means getting prepared for their first mandatory distributions from tax-sheltered retirement accounts. The first thing to keep in mind is that the amount of your required annual withdrawal is based on the assets in the account as of…

Approximately 40 percent of marriages these days are remarriages for at least one partner. When you remarry, there are all sorts of issues to consider related to your estate plan. For older people, the main focus may be ensuring that their adult children or grandchildren have an inheritance. Without proper planning, a new spouse could…

Regardless of the size of your business, it’s critical that you work proactively to protect the sensitive and private information of your customers, clients and employees. While you might hear more often about data breaches at bigger companies, the reality is that smaller companies and organizations are often targeted and typically have limited data security…

It’s important to review a revocable trust regularly to see if any amendments are needed, such as when something changes in your life. Some examples are: you have had or adopted a child; your spouse or other beneficiaries have died; you have remarried; the value of your assets, including life insurance death benefits in most…

It’s a common scenario: An elderly relative is no longer able to live alone, so family members sell the relative’s house and have the relative start living with them or in a nursing home or assisted living facility that’s closer to the family. One thing you might not consider during this stressful process is that…

Robert J. Ross (Bob) is pleased to announce the formation of Ross Law Firm Ltd., an Illinois corporation, and the promotion of his eldest son, Patrick F. Ross (Patrick), to shareholder. Bob Ross, managing shareholder of the new Ross Law Firm, said, “I never imagined 30 years ago when I started the Law Offices of…

Survivorship life insurance (also known as “second-to-die”) can be an important vehicle to consider for estate planning. This type of insurance policy covers two lives and pays out the proceeds when the second insured dies. One benefit is that the premium tends to be lower than it would be for two separate policies because the…

Some people never get around to retaining a lawyer to prepare their will, living trust and other important estate planning documents. Here are some of the reasons we hear and our responses: 1. “I don’t need estate planning documents.” Not having estate planning documents can result in your family, friends or charities being left out…

In order to achieve tax savings and accomplish your goals, you should pay careful attention to naming primary and contingent IRA beneficiaries The laws governing inherited IRAs are complicated and it’s easy to make mistakes. If you want to discuss naming beneficiaries and/or creating a “standalone” trust for your IRA (and other retirement account assets),…

If you have a child, grandchild or loved one who is away at college, you should be aware that the federal medical privacy rules (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 – “HIPAA”) apply to him or her. Once your child turns 18, the federal HIPAA law says that you can no longer have…

We represent many persons who act in the trusted role of “fiduciary,” as successor trustee of a trust, executor of a will, administrator of an estate (when a person dies without a will) or other role. Fiduciaries often have a tough and thankless job. They must marshal assets, file tax returns and distribute property according…

Planning when one or both spouses have been married in the past can also present challenges. For instance, suppose Mike and Helen, a married couple with no children, sign wills or trusts leaving their assets to each other outright. If Mike dies first, Helen will inherit everything. When Helen dies, who will get assets which…

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Phone: (847) 358-5757 :: Fax: (847) 620-2777

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The Ross Law Firm is a professional, thorough and friendly Illinois law firm serving the clients of Inverness, Barrington, Hoffman Estates, and Palatine. Other clients come from Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Oak Park, River Forest, Lake Zurich, Chicago and elsewhere. We have served clients from Kane County, Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, and McHenry County.

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