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Do You Need a Will and Trust in Your Estate Plan?Your estate plan can contain several documents, including a will and a trust. Both wills and trusts serve the same primary purpose of ensuring that your assets are transferred to the people you intend after your death. Yet, having a will is not the same as having a trust. Should you create both a will and a trust, or is having only one of the two enough? Wills and trusts each have their own strengths and weaknesses in an estate plan, and it may be appropriate to have both depending on your circumstances.

What Are the Differences?

A last will and testament is a document that indicates your wishes following your death, such as:

  • Naming who will inherit each of your assets
  • Appointing someone as the guardian of your children
  • Giving instructions for your funeral

A will does not activate until after you have died. All assets that you include in your will must go through probate court, which can delay distribution to your beneficiaries and incur court and legal fees.

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Creating a Parenting Plan That Enables CooperationIf you have a high-conflict relationship with your co-parent after your divorce, a well-crafted parenting plan can help you better cooperate in raising your children. Conversely, a poorly crafted parenting plan can create conflict in an amicable co-parenting relationship and make a high-conflict relationship even worse. Your parenting plan will determine important issues such as how you will divide your parenting time and who is able to make decisions about how to raise your children. If you are unsure whether your parenting plan could cause conflict, you can ask the following questions:

  1. Does the Parenting Plan Put Your Children’s Needs First?: You make a parenting plan with your children’s best interests in mind. Parents sometimes make the mistake of thinking that what is best for them is also best for their children. For instance, you may want a parenting schedule that gives you an equal amount of time with your children, but such a schedule may force them to switch between homes several times a week, which can be stressful for them. In this situation, what is best for your children may be different from what is best for you.
  2. Does Your Parenting Schedule Consider Special Situations?: It is rare for divorced parents to stick to the same schedule every week of the year. You may need to deviate from your schedule for holidays, vacations, and other special circumstances that conflict with your normal schedule. Your parenting plan should anticipate special situations by creating an alternate schedule for holidays and vacations and explaining when you are allowed to make a one-time change to your schedule because of an unexpected conflict.
  3. How Clear Are the Instructions in the Plan?: Conflict can happen in a parenting plan when the co-parents disagree on what the plan allows. Who is responsible for dropping off or picking up the kids when they are switching homes? When are you required to get permission before making a decision about your children? Who will pay for expenses that are not covered by child support? If your parenting plan does not clearly answer questions such as this, you should talk to your co-parent about it before the plan is legally approved.

Contact a Crystal Lake, Illinois, Divorce Lawyer

A well-crafted parenting plan should provide a structure for co-parents to follow while allowing some flexibility to make sure that the plan is always serving the children’s best interests. It can be difficult to balance the structure and flexibility, and co-parents with a high-conflict relationship may need more structure in their plan than other parents. A McHenry County divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, will work with you on crafting a strong parenting plan. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.

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What Are Common Injuries You Can Suffer in a Head-On Collision?A head-on collision may be the most frightening type of car crash you can be involved in. Seeing another vehicle coming at you in the same lane is startling, and you may not have the time or maneuverability to avoid the collision. The aftermath of a head-on collision can be just as scary for those involved, even if they were wearing safety belts and their airbags deployed. Head-on collisions are the most deadly type of crash because a collision between two vehicles heading opposite directions will have a greater force and cause more violent damage to the vehicles. If you are fortunate enough to survive the crash, you may suffer serious injuries with long-lasting effects on your life. Common injuries that people in head-on collisions sustain include:

  1. Traumatic Brain Injuries: Your brain is an area of particular concern following a head-on collision. During the collision, your head likely jerked forward while the rest of your body was held in place by your safety belt. This can cause brain injuries if your head strikes a surface or if your brain is jostled against your skull. Brain injuries can take longer for you to notice than other injuries, but the consequences can have a profound effect on your ability to think and function.
  2. Neck and Spine Injuries: Along with your head, your neck is not as secured as the rest of your body during a head-on collision, which can lead to whiplash. The collision can also potentially damage your spine through cracked vertebrae or a herniated disc. Spinal injuries can cause partial or total paralysis.
  3. Chest and Abdomen Injuries: Though the safety belt and airbags protect you from being propelled forward during a head-on collision, the force with which you are stopped can cause damage to your chest and abdomen. You may suffer cracked or broken ribs or internal organ damage if they are pierced by your broken ribs or an instrument in your vehicle.
  4. Lower Body Injuries: Your legs and feet will absorb much of the impact during a head-on collision, which can cause torn ligaments and broken bones. Those injuries may be worsened if your legs strike the instrument panel of your vehicle or are crushed in the vehicle wreckage.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Lawyer

With the extensive injuries that can result from a head-on collision, it will be important to pursue compensation if another driver was at fault for the crash. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you receive damages that will cover your medical expenses and compensate you for your pain and suffering. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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What Are Your Rights When You Have Been Arrested?With people around the world protesting police mistreatment of people of color, this is a good time to educate yourself about your rights if a police officer arrests you. By understanding your rights, you can avoid saying or doing something that could be used against you in a criminal case. There are rules that all officers in the U.S. must follow during an arrest to ensure that the arrestee’s constitutional rights are not being violated. Unfortunately, some police officers violate the rules, which can result in unlawful arrests or harm to the arrestee. Proving police misconduct during your arrest could lead to the charges against you being reduced or dismissed.

Miranda Warning

Leading up to and after your arrest, a police officer may ask you questions in hopes that you will provide information that can be evidence in a criminal case. It is in your best interest to not provide the officer with any information other than identifying yourself. After your arrest, the officer is required to read the Miranda warning to you before they ask more questions. The Miranda warning informs you that:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • Statements you make to the police can be used as evidence against you
  • You have the right to request an attorney before speaking to the police
  • An attorney will be assigned to you if you cannot afford one

If no one reads your Miranda warning, any statements that you make in response to police questions after your arrest will be inadmissible as evidence in court.

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Why Power of Attorney Is Vital to Your Estate PlanYour estate plan mostly concerns instructions for what to do following your death, but there are parts of the plan that can apply while you are still alive. You may lose the ability to make sound decisions for yourself if you are suffering from a cognitive illness such as dementia or are incapacitated due to a health emergency. Who will consent to medical treatment that may help you but also carries risks? Who will manage your properties, including making sure that your bills are paid? You can assign the power of attorney as part of your estate plan to determine who is allowed to make these decisions.

What Is the Power of Attorney?

The power of attorney is a legal document that names a person or persons who will have the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. There are two types of power of attorney in Illinois:

  • The property power of attorney is the authority to make financial decisions.
  • The health care power of attorney is the authority to make health-related decisions.

You can place limits or add instructions to your power of attorney if you do not want another person to have complete discretion when making decisions while you are incapacitated. For instance, a “do not resuscitate” order could instruct whether you should be removed from life support if you are unlikely to regain consciousness. You can also choose which transactions someone is allowed to make for you.

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