Be careful of what you get. I have said this before but not quite as well as Wiggin & Nourie, P.A. does with its Is LegalZoom Legal? "I think that people generally have a tendency to underestimate the work that goes into the preparation of an estate ...
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For Those Using Free Forms From The Internet

Be careful of what you get. I have said this before but not quite as well as Wiggin & Nourie, P.A. does with its Is LegalZoom Legal?

"I think that people generally have a tendency to underestimate the work that goes into the preparation of an estate plan, it requires a great deal more than simply printing off forms. LegalZoom and other such services reinforce the opinion that estate planning may easily be accomplished by generating simple forms, but if you are considering the use of such services, you should look closely at the service provider's disclaimer. You will likely see, as in the case of LegalZoom, that the service provider is not serving as your attorney, does not review the documents you prepare for legal sufficiency and does not guarantee that the documents are correct. Preparing estate planning documents without the benefit of a legal opinion may result in unintended consequences that may be costly to correct in the future. In my experience, the vast majority of clients engage in estate planning to gain a sense of reassurance that their family will be cared for after their death in the manner that the client thinks is most appropriate, to pay for documents to be prepared without receiving the benefit of legal advice may undermine the entire purpose of the planning in the first place."
While the topic of their post is estate planning, everything there applies to family law and every other area of the law.

Prenuptial Agreements Are Good For Family Businesses

If you have a family business then read the following from The Williston Herald, Family roles play a part in farm operation, succession A family death brings questions about new roles:

"To help deal with in-laws, Hanson is now a firm believer in prenuptial marriage agreements.

'It's just good business management,' he said, while admitting there are two points of view on the matter.

The first point is from the view of the in-law, who wants to know why she/he should have to sign such a document in the first place, especially if that person helps work the operation.

To address this point, Hanson said to ask the in-law to think of what the family has done to build the business.

'The only way this farm will ever be successful is if this farm stays as a unit. If this farm is divided, sold, split off, no one wins,' Hanson said.

If a prenuptial agreement is done fairly, no one ever gets upset. In talking about the reasons behind the prenuptial agreement and its overall purpose, the new family member should understand and feel he/she has been treated fairly, he said.

Hanson is also a firm believer in prenuptial agreements for anyone entering a second marriage.

'If you think children have trouble settling an estate, wait until you have stepchildren,' he said."

If you need a lawyer for a prenuptial agreement, please give me a call.

Why Estate Planning?

Give Allinotte Law Office's Do you want to deal with this now or let your family deal with it later? a read. I think the article points out a few things not usually thought of when thinking of estate planning. Both the things needing planned (such as a funeral trust) and why which I think the article sums up quite well here:

The family will be shaken by the death of a loved one. In the immediate after math, and possibly even before death, there would be decisions that would have to be made.
If you are wanting to talk about estate planning, please give my office a call.

Are You Ready To Co-Parent?

I have had a run of shared parenting issues lately. So when reading Make Smart Choices for Post-Divorce Co-Parenting Success I had those issues in mind. I am going to suggest that the following paragraphs add content and texture to the idea of shared parenting as much as splitting time. So I ask this: if you want shared parenting time, do you think you and the other parent are up to this kind of behavior?

Create routine co-parent check-ins:

The more co-parents communicate with one another about the children, the less likely for small issues to grow into major problems. Select days/times for phone, email or in-person visits. Discuss in advance visitation transfer agreements. List who’s responsible for what each day, week or month. Food, homework, curfews, health issues, allowances, school transportation, sport activities, play dates, holiday plans and more should be clearly agreed upon, when possible – or scheduled for further discussion. Once you have a clear parenting plan structured – follow it to the best of your ability. But allow for last-minute changes and special “favors” to facilitate cooperation.

Encourage your child’s co-parent relationship:

Regardless of your personal feelings about your ex, your children need a healthy connection with their other parent. Keep snide comments to yourself and don’t discuss your parenting frustrations with your children. Encourage your kids to maintain a caring, respectful relationship with their other parent. Remind them about Mom or Dad’s birthday and holiday gifts. Make time in the weekly schedule for phone calls, cards, email and letters to keep the children’s connection alive when your co-parent is at a distance. Your children will thank you when they grow up.

Be compassionate with your in-laws:

Remember that a Grandparent’s love doesn’t stop after divorce. If your children had a healthy bond with your former spouse’s extended family, don’t punish them by severing that connection. Children thrive on family attachments, holiday get-togethers and traditions they’ve come to love. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins can be a great source of comfort to children during stressful times and a sense of continuity with the past. Dissolving those relationships is hurtful to both your children and the other family. Think long and hard before making such an emotionally damaging decision.

Above all, be flexible. When you allow calls from your co-parent when the kids are in your home, they will be more receptive to your calls when the tables are turned. Remember, you are still a parenting team working on behalf of your children. That commonality should enable you to overlook the thorns in your co-parenting relationship and focus on the flowering buds that are the children you are raising.
If your answer is yes, then think seriously about joint and/or shared custody.

If not and you are the one wanting shared parenting, then ask yourself why are you seeking shared parenting?


What is Mediation - And When Can It Help

With some counties pushing mediation as prerequisite to ever seeing a courtroom, I getting asked more questions about mediation and articles like What is Mediation do a good job of explaining the process. I suggest following the link and reading the whole as well as my excerpts

Divorce mediation is about you and your soon to be ex-spouse deciding your own divorce and what is best for the both of you and most importantly, your children. In mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, and with their help, you work through the issues you need to resolve so the two of you can end your marriage as amicably and cost effective as possible.
In mediation, the couple, with the help of the mediator, works out agreements on the above issues. Sometimes agreements come easy, sometimes they take time and a lot of work. When agreements are hard to reach, that is when the mediator intervenes. It is the mediators job to keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas, reality test the couple, teach empathy and assist the couple in their decision making process. Mediators help keep the couple focused on the issues at hand, trying not to get them off track. When divorcing couples get off track and away from the above issues during mediation, arguing, name-calling and bad prior memories are brought up.
I do have a long-standing philosophical problem with mediation. Cases exist where no amount of persuasion will lead to a change of positions. In those cases the need exists for a person to say that this or that will be done by the parties. Those people we call judges. Therein also lies the basic difference between mediation and litigation.

I do have a criticism to make - which may describe more the difference between Indiana and Illinois rather than any error by the writer - of this paragraph:
In 2008, the average mediated case cost $3000 and was settled in 90 days. In turn, the average litigated case in the courts cost $15,000 and took 18 months to settle. Keep in mind, the litigated cases led to more spite and frustration between the divorcing couples, usually leading to a lose/lose situation for both. Not many people walk away from a litigated divorce feeling satisfied. On the other hand, couples who went through mediation felt satisfied with the agreements they had reached and both walked away feeling that they had gotten what they had wanted. Who would you rather have decide what happens with your children and assets after a divorce, you during mediation or attorneys and judges during a divorce in the courts? Who knows more about you, attorneys, judges or you? Why have people who know nothing about you tell you how you are going to live the rest of your life.
My criticisms are:
  1. I know Indiana has does not have any statistics on the costs of litigation versus mediation but I cannot think that the average in Illinois greatly higher than Indiana - or what I am billing!
  2. Do read this paragraph with the assumption that a lawyer can be done away with if you do mediation. Unless the parties prepare the necessary petitions and waivers, there is still the need for a lawyer.


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