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Think about the days leading up to your death and the days after

Thinking about your death isn't something that most adults would classify as a fun activity. For people who are ready to get their estate plan together, thinking about their death is only part of the process.

There are several different things that you need to consider when you want to create an estate plan. In fact, your plans have to include things that might occur before you even pass away. We know that you might be a bit confused by this, but we can help you to work through the applicable issues.

Student loan forgiveness could mean the end of financial woes

Today's graduates (and those in recent years) are getting out of school with more debt than ever before. This is due in no small part to the double-digit increases in tuition and fees for countless public and private colleges and universities across the country. The average 2016 graduate, for example, has come out of school with a diploma in one hand and about $38,000 in debt in the other.

The rapid rise of student loans, coupled with a still sluggish economy in many areas and the difficulty some recent graduates have reported finding work in their chosen field, has resulted in a wave of loan repayment defaults across the country. Once a borrower has defaulted, the original student loan provider (or the new owner of the debt, if it has changed hands in the interim) can bring a lawsuit seeking a judgment to collect the entirety of the loan balance.

A messy divorce could affect kids' health for years

A recent study by researchers at prestigious Carnegie Mellon University provides divorcing parents with another reason to work hard at civility. The study revealed that adults whose parents' relationship during their childhood had deteriorated to the point of not speaking following a divorce were over three times more likely to contract common cold and flu viruses than those whose parents were still married or had moved on and stayed civil following a divorce.

The research is seen as a first step in proving that early childhood family conflict can have a deleterious impact on health decades in the future.

Making co-parenting work when things get difficult

One of the ways that some parents are opting to parent their children after a divorce is through co-parenting. This is an arrangement that will have you spending time with your ex as you parent your children.

Co-parenting is an arrangement that isn't always easy. After all, you and your ex didn't get divorced because you get along so well. There are some ways that you can make the situation a bit easier to deal with. Here are some pointers that might help you along the way.

Illinois is using a new child support formula starting July 1

The child support model that Illinois uses has long hinged on the income of the paying parent and the number of children that had to be supported by the income. As of July 1, the child support model is changing to the income shares model.

The income shares child support model is said to have interests of the child at heart. It considers the overall cost to raise a child in the economic class the parents are in. This means that the amount would be different for a person in the top 1 percent than it would be for a person who is in the upper middle class.

Charitable trusts provide tax benefits, flexibility and control

Establishing charitable trusts provides Illinois residents with a number of significant benefits. Charitable trusts can be important components of tax management and estate planning strategies, and they allow people to fulfill their philanthropic objectives while providing them with flexibility and control. Trusts can be set up to make charitable donations in the form of lump sums or income streams, and people are able to determine how and when these payments will be made.

There is more than one type of charitable trust. Assets that have great value or do not produce income are generally placed in charitable remainder trusts. These trusts make at least one payment to non-charitable beneficiaries each year, and whatever remains after a term of no longer than 20 years passes to the charitable beneficiaries. This arrangement is mirrored with a charitable lead trust. With this kind of arrangement, annual payments are made to charitable beneficiaries and non-charitable beneficiaries receive what remains when the trust ends.

Safety groups urge cautious approach to self-driving cars

The Illinois House Transportation Committee approved a bill in March that paved the way for fully autonomous vehicles to use the state's streets and highways. Several auto and technology companies have vowed to bring such a vehicle to the market within five years, and this has captured the attention of the nation's lawmakers and worried some road safety advocacy groups. Organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration want the regulation of self-driving cars to be dealt with at the federal level, and proponents say that a patchwork of local laws could allow unproven and potentially dangerous technology onto the roads.

Proposals dealing with autonomous vehicles are being discussed by lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Manufacturers also want clear national rules, but they are urging legislators to regulate delicately. A House Energy and Commerce panel is mulling stricter measures that would restrict autonomous vehicle testing and require companies like Google and Tesla to obtain certification for any new equipment before deploying it on public roads.

Uncontested divorces can help you end your marriage quickly

Divorces can take a lot of time to get finalized if you and your ex can't work out the terms of the divorce. Trying to take the case to a trial is possible, but you should understand that this means you will have wait for a trial date and prepare to show the court why you should get what you want.

In many cases, you can get your divorce finalized much faster if you and your ex can work out the details. If you and your ex can do this, you can file for an uncontested divorce.

Important steps to take in the aftermath of a car accident

Illinois drivers who are involved in a car accident should check to see if others have been injured if they have not themselves. While injured people should only be moved if necessary, vehicles should be moved out of the way to prevent another accident. A driver who is not at fault in the accident should get insurance and contact information from the driver at fault even though it is that driver's responsibility to report the accident to the insurance company. Taking witness statements and photos and even calling the police may help protect a motorist who is not at fault.

Once a person has left the scene of the accident, it is important to take notes about the situation. A person's insurance company may be of assistance if the other driver does not report the accident or if that driver's insurance company denies the driver's fault in the accident. Therefore, contacting the insurance company may be a good precaution.

Ways to provide for special needs children

Illinois parents of special needs children face challenges that others are not required to deal with. Among the biggest issues tied to raising a special needs child is finance. Parents are put in a position where they must not only provide for specialized treatment and care during their lives, but they must also plan to provide for their child after they're gone.

Special needs trusts are among the most effective instruments to provide for an individual's financial requirements without compromising his or her rights to receive Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid. The family can fund the trust with cash or other assets for the benefit of the child. If the trust is properly established and managed, the funds therein should not count against the beneficiary when it comes to means testing.

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Glen Carbon, IL 62034
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