IL Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Knowing your Rights as a Parent of a Child with Special Needs

Guest Blog by Kristen Sutera: Special Education Teacher at Sopris Elementary


Between the thousands of acronyms and discipline specific language, navigating the world of special education can be daunting and frustrating at times. Many parents do not realize their rights as a parent of a child with a disability. Knowing the special education laws will help you be the best possible advocate for your child. This article will cover specifically the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  IDEA was originally passed in 1975 to give children with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Read more . . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Planning for Same-Sex Couples

Excerpts taken from WealthCounsel Quarterly Volume 10 Issue 2 by Scott Squillace, JD



Putting aside love, commitment, societal, family and religious issues - what are the legal and tax issues a same-sex couple should consider in making the decision to marry?



1. Taxes

  • Ability to file jointly on income tax (but watch community property states and the "marriage penalty")
  • Deductibility of alimony from income in case of divorce
  • Ability to transfer money and property to spouse during life and after death without tax consequences
  • Possible tax refunds for past returns and for employer related health benefits
  • Health insurance benefits no longer imputed income
  • Deceased Spousal Unused Exclusion (DSUE) raises the amount excluded from estate tax of a married couple's estate to $10.9 million, as opposed to 5.45 million for an individual

2. Real Estate

  • Capital gains from the sale of a primary residence exclusion amount increased from $250k to $500k for married couple
  • Garn St.
    Read more . . .

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Recording your DD-214 (Military Discharge Papers) in your local County Recorder's Office


The Report of Separation contains information normally needed to verify military service for benefits, retirement, employment, and membership in veterans' organizations.  

In 2004, Public Act 093-0468 was established to protect the rights of veterans, meaning a recorded military discharge or DD-214 is no longer considered public information and is not available for public viewing.  The service person is always welcomed in the Recorder's office to retrieve copies when needed, however if a spouse or family member is in need we suggest they use the services of the Veterans Assistance Commission to acquire this information.  They will obtain the records and also be able to assist with any other services you might be needing.



Bring in your DD-214 paperwork after your separation date shown on your paperwork.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Protect Your Most Valuable Investment

Property Fraud:  

What is it?

  • When someone illegally uses your property for financial gain.

How Does it Happen?

  • Someone records a fraudulent document in the County Land Records Office, making it look like they own your home or property.

Should I be Concerned?

  • Yes.  According to the FBI, property and mortgage fraud is the fastest growing white-collar crime.

What can I do About It?

  • Your County Land Records Office has teamed up to create a notification service called "Property Fraud Alert" that will call or email you any time a document is recorded against your property.
    Read more . . .

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Investors Beware!

Taken From May 2016 AARP Bulletin:

 States are quick to declare financial property "abandoned" and then grab it By Eileen Ambrose


If you get a letter from your brokerage mutual fund company or bank saying it hasn't heard from you in a while, don't ignore it.  The financial institution might be trying to prevent your investments from being turned over to your state government.  States have become quicker to declare investments "abandoned" when owners lose touch with their financial firm.  Once investments are seized, states try to find the owners.  If that fails, shares generally are sold and the proceeds used by the state until the owners - or their heirs - claim the money.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Difficult, Delicate Untangling of Our Parents’ Financial Lives

By properly helping your parents organize their financial history, you can further help them administer their assets in case of an incapacity or death.


Taken from Wall Street Journal March 27, 2016 

The Difficult, Delicate Untangling of Our Parents’ Financial Lives By WILLIAM POWER

When my in-laws became too incapacitated to handle their own affairs, my wife and I took over. A year and a half later, we’re still trying to figure it all out.


 “No, no, no, don’t transfer me to her again,” pleads my wife.

It is a typically frustrating moment in our family crisis, one that many grown children will have to face, ready or not: We are people in our 50s who are unraveling the finances of parents who can no longer do it themselves.
Read more . . .

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

10 Tips for Bringing Your Children into the Family Business

Here is something from that might interest you:

Thinking about bringing your children into your family or small business? Beware! This can be either a blessing or a curse depending on how you do it. Experience shows there are right ways to introduce your offspring into your business and, most decidedly, wrong ways. The following are 10 tips for pursuing the former and avoiding the latter.

1) Have them work elsewhere for at least five years.
Read more . . .

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Benefits of Charitable Lead Trusts

By American Heart Association:

The Benefits of Charitable Lead Trusts: Part II


Charitable lead trusts have become more attractive as an estate and income tax planning tool. The reason for this is the historically low Section 7520 rates (Applicable Federal Rates or AFRs). In recent years, the AFR has hovered between 1.0% and 2.4% and hasn’t been above 3.
Read more . . .

Monday, July 11, 2016

Try Before You Buy in a Retirement Community

When seniors are checking out places to retire — or join the 55-and-over "active adult" set — their question often is, "How do I know I'm going to like the community I'm considering?"

That's the dilemma Mike and Robyn Bonitz faced when looking for a place to retire. After narrowing their choices to four retirement communities — one in Summerville, S.C.; one in Ocala, Fla.; and two in Ariz.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Medicare Observation Care Requirements

Controversy Erupts Over Medicare Observation Care Requirements
In August, a federal law kicks in requiring hospitals to tell their Medicare patients if they have not been formally admitted and why. But some physician, hospital, and consumer representatives say a notice drafted by Medicare for hospitals to use may not do the job. The law was a response to complaints from Medicare patients who were surprised to learn that although they had spent a few days in the hospital, they were there for observation and were not admitted. Observation patients are considered too sick to go home yet not sick enough to be admitted. They may pay higher charges than admitted patients and do not qualify for Medicare's nursing home coverage.
Read more . . .

Friday, June 24, 2016

"I Needed to Find Care for my Elderly Aunt. What I Found was an Eldercare Crisis"

The call came right after lunchtime.

“I’ve fallen again.”

My great-aunt Emma sounded frustrated and frail. Her arm hurt too much to move, she said, let alone pick up the bag of groceries she’d just bought. It might be broken.
Read more . . .

Archived Posts


With two offices in Oak Lawn and Oak Brook, Stephen M. Sutera assists clients throughout Cook County, DuPage County and Will County IL including Chicago, Hometown, Barrington, Burbank, Burr Ridge, Chicago Ridge, Darien, Downers Grove, Evergreen Park, Geneva, Worth, Bridgeview, Palos Park, Palos Hills, Palos Heights, Hickory Hills, Midlothian, Willow Springs, Oak Forest, Orland Park, La Grange, Brookfield, Berwyn, Tinley Park, Hinsdale, Villa Park, Clarendon Hills, Westchester, Westmont, Lombard, Elmhurst, Western Springs, Berkeley, Downers Grove, Fox Valley, Glen Ellyn, Willowbrook, Aurora, Addison, Lisle, Forest Park, Bensenville, Wheaton, River Forest, Itasca, Shorewood, Frankfort, Mokena, Naperville, Crest Hill, Homer Glen, New Lenox, Bollingbrook, Schaumburg, Channahon and Woodridge.

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| Phone: 708-857-7255
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