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Archive for January, 2019

How to Choose an Estate Planning Attorney in Illinois

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A skilled estate planning attorney manages your assets and affairs in preparation for your eventual demise or incapacitation. Estate lawyers have numerous invaluable functions. Given these professionals have detailed knowledge about your assets, goals, and family needs, choosing a suitable estate planning attorney is crucial to your present peace of mind and your loved ones’ future.

The Power of Estate Planning AttorneysLast-Will-and-Testament-Form-with-Gavel

Estate planning attorneys wear multiple hats. Your last will and testament are likely drafted by an estate planning attorney. Such a lawyer also creates living trusts. While looking toward the future, your estate planning lawyer will work to prevent creditors from pursuing your beneficiaries after your death. They can also help you avoid estate taxes.

Aside from managing financial matters, an estate planning attorney has the power to prepare health care directives. In the event mental incapacitation gets a stronghold in your life, this legal professional will arrange to have your affairs kept in good order.

A lawyer who specializes in estate planning should be your top choice. General legal practitioners are unlikely to offer niche services to guide you through your unique financial matters.

Requirements for Estate Planning Attorneys

Your ideal choice should also stay abreast of the current laws of the state in which you reside. In the unfortunate event you pick an estate planning attorney who fails to keep up with changing state laws, your estate plan could be deemed null in court.

If you feel comfortable sharing the particulars of your life, assets, death and possible future disability with a potential estate planning attorney, you may have struck gold. A compatible lawyer listens to your concerns with the precise intent to develop an estate plan that fully satisfies your expectations.

Finding a remarkable professional to carry out your estate plan takes a little digging. You’ll find most success by asking for referrals. Professionals you already trust, people like your financial advisor, your accountant, and your attorney, can lead you to a fitting estate planning attorney.

While referrals are an excellent starting point, you can also achieve your goal by scouring legal ads. Print, television and radio are inundated with ads from lawyers. It helps to know that states regulate attorney ads to deter lawyers from guaranteeing unattainable outcomes.

Your local bar association or state bar offers a list of certified attorneys who specialize in estate planning. You may stumble upon a certified referral service from a city or county bar association.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, perhaps based on specialization or location, prepare to take advantage of the lawyers’ consultations. During the initial meeting, ask questions. The attorneys’ answers will direct you to a qualified and well-suited professional.

What to Look for in an Estate Planning Attorney

1. Experience

Any attorney can legally claim the title of estate planner, even if he has no direct experience with the specialty. A simple estate plan can be carried out by an estate planning attorney with just two to three years of experience. Complex estate plans should be handled by an experienced lawyer, one with seven to ten years of handling trust law, probate as well as estate planning.

2. Full Time

Ask your potential estate planning attorney how much time he allocates to estate planning. The ideal response is “full time”. Effectively navigating the sophisticated field of estate planning requires specialized expertise and dedication.

3. Accredited Estate Planner

The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils awards the AEP. Professionals who receive this designation are licensed attorneys who are active in estate planning, have five years (minimum) of direct experience working in estate planning and have at least 15 hours of continuing education in estate planning within the past 24 months.

4. Payment

While seeking the cheapest lawyer is tempting, it is imperative to avoid the most inexpensive estate planning attorneys for two reasons:

  • Low-cost estate planning lawyers tend to utilize standard documentation, thereby failing to take into account your unique needs
  • Lawyers who charge less may offer the least experience; and, when your assets are complex, an experienced lawyer is more likely to provide you and your loved ones with the desired services.

5. Communication

An attorney’s seamless communication and explanations regarding the multifaceted aspects of estate planning are major pluses when you are on the hunt for a qualified estate planning professional. As a client, it is crucial that you comprehend the documents you sign.

6. Advisor or Salesman?

An estate planning attorney’s job is to advise you on important matters regarding your estate, rather than sell services or tools. An appropriate setup occurs when you have trust in the advice of your estate planning lawyer, enough to reveal your goals and familial concerns.

Work with Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys in Chicago

The well-being of your family is important. When you are planning to seamlessly disperse your assets among your loved ones, a qualified estate planning lawyer is critical. The attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. offer over 30 years of experience in estate planning.

About Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.Berry-K.-Tucker-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-IL

Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. estate planning attorneys will take steps to fully understand your unique financial situation. Estate planning documents are then drafted and executed to meet your and your family’s needs. Our lawyers stay up to date on all current Illinois laws, so expect peace of mind in knowing your estate plan will be accepted in court.

Included in the comprehensive estate planning services provided by Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are will and trust creations. When it comes to trusts, our reputable team of lawyers offer experience with life insurance trusts, charitable trusts and living trusts, among many others.

Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. serves the Oak Lawn, Illinois, community with dedication. We are committed to offering top-notch estate planning services to clients in the surrounding areas.

Schedule a Consultation

Give us a call at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a contact form to schedule your consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney.

How Filing for Bankruptcy Can Affect Your Spouse

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A married person filing for bankruptcy can do so with or without his or her spouse. However, filing for bankruptcy individually may still have consequences for your spouse. Affecting factors include whether or not you and your spouse have joint property or debts, whether you file for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and what the property laws are in the state in which you reside.

Individual and Joint Debt


Make sure to speak with your spouse and discuss how filing for bankruptcy will affect them.

Joint debts are handled differently than individual debts. The individual debt of one spouse who files for bankruptcy will be discharged; the other spouse’s debts remain unaffected.

When a husband and wife share debt, as in joint debt, the spouse who files is equally responsible for the repayment of that debt as the non-filing spouse. Although one spouse’s debt is discharged, the debt may appear on the other spouse’s credit report.

Illinois bankruptcy laws allow spouses who file bankruptcy jointly to claim a set of exemptions. In Illinois, exemptions can be described as personal property, such as condos or farms, motor vehicles and health or disability benefits, among others.

Filing bankruptcy jointly will increase the number of exemptions the married couple can claim. As a result, the trustee assigned to your bankruptcy case has no power to put your property up for sale.


A wife’s credit will remain unaffected when a husband files for bankruptcy without her. As mentioned, a joint debt will cause the bankruptcy claim to make an appearance on the non-filing spouse’s credit report.

Creditors will be apprised of your bankruptcy filing and can pursue joint debts from the non-filing spouse.

In Illinois, the act of filing for bankruptcy can continually appear on you and/or your spouse’s credit record for an entire decade.


Individually owned property is unaffected in a bankruptcy filing. Property that is jointly owned will be affected by filing for bankruptcy; and, the determining factors are whether or not you live in a common law property state or a community property state. Illinois is a common law property state, which means marital property is not evenly divided.

Common law property states recognize properties acquired during a marriage as solely belonging to the spouse who purchased it—unless the name of the spouse is added to the title. For example, when a husband buys a yacht or a new car and adds only his name to the title, that property belongs exclusively to him in a common law property state.

Referring to this same example, a community law property state considers the yacht or new car to belong to both marital partners, regardless of whose name is on the title.

When a wife files for bankruptcy in a common law property state, the husband’s physical assets that are solely in his name remain unaffected.

In a community law property state, the property of both spouses is affected when either file for bankruptcy. This is because the community property (including earned income) belongs equally to both spouses and these assets can be used to satisfy bankruptcy debts.


Creditors can attempt to collect joint financial obligations from a spouse when the other spouse files for bankruptcy. Plus, filing for bankruptcy does not prevent the other spouse from having to pay back his or her individual or joint debts.

Both spouses may receive collection calls, even if one spouse owes the debt. A marital partner who does not owe the debt can take steps to stop the unwanted collection attempts in three ways:

  • First, acquire proof of responsibility for the debts from the collection agencies.
  • Second, once the spouse has filed for bankruptcy, the other spouse can request an automatic stay from the bankruptcy court. The automatic stay should stop the collection calls.
  • Third, if an automatic stay is granted, the spouse without the debts should notify the collections agency of the bankruptcy filing and request all collections activity be stopped. A bankruptcy lawyer can also work on your behalf to halt collections communications.

As indicated earlier, Illinois is a common law property state, meaning the filing spouse’s debts are discharged in bankruptcy, but the non-filing spouse’s unpaid obligations are not. Creditors can continue to pursue the owing spouse.

Codebtor Stay

The codebtor stay protects codebtors, like a spouse, from creditors when a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed. The stay stops collections agencies from harassing the non-filing spouse.

However, creditors may make a request to the bankruptcy courts to lift the codebtor stay. Such a demand is normally made when the debtor fails to repay the joint debts as outlined in the repayment plan.

Work with a Bankruptcy AttorneyBerry-K.-Tucker-Divorce-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-IL

Married couples have the option to file for bankruptcy without their spouse. Joint bankruptcy filing is not mandatory under any laws. A knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer will empower a husband and wife team to achieve their financial goals. The bankruptcy attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are positioned with the legal expertise and knowledge to help navigate couples on the brink of bankruptcy through their many options.

Whether you and your marital partner are inclined to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the skilled bankruptcy attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. have the experience with both forms to offer expert legal advice. Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a complex process. A skilled bankruptcy lawyer can streamline following this route, should it be the most beneficial.

With 50 years of experience in bankruptcy proceedings, the Berry K. Tucker lawyers will negotiate on your behalf with loan companies if your car is repossessed; we will advise you on the best course to take when you are overwhelmed with credit card debt; our medical debt bankruptcy attorneys will offer you legal options in regard to medical debts; and we will fight for you when you are faced with a home foreclosure.

Serving Oak Lawn, IL and Surrounding Areas

Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Logo

The Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. bankruptcy lawyers serve the Oak Lawn, Illinois, community and surrounding areas. Consult the legal experts to help you decide if filing for bankruptcy is right for you and your spouse.

Contact Us

To speak with a professional bankruptcy attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd., give us a call at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a contact form.

Every Case is Unique

Fill out the form below to submit your case for a free consultation.

5210 West 95th Street
Oak Lawn, IL 60453



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