Friday, May 22, 2009

Effective Estate Planning Without Litigation

Effective Estate Planning Without Litigation

Many attorneys can prepare wills and trusts, but most attorneys are ill equipped to set your will or trust up in a manner that eliminates or minimizes conflicts within your own family. A common question or statement is "my family would never fight over an estate issue." Estate conflicts are normal and arise due to one person's loss or gain is another person's gain or loss. Thus, certain family members feel entitled to an inheritance or feel that they were wronged when they do not get their inheritance.

One effective estate planning tool to avoid litigation is privacy. When documents are public and within the public domain, it is difficult to avoid litigation in many cases. Wills are typical examples of documents that are public record. Wills are commonly litigated because one person is hurt by their lack of inheritance. Typically, this person was disinherited or feels that their sibling buttered their mother or father up and coerced them into signing their will and assets over to this person.

A Revocable Living Trust is a document where you prepare in an attorney's office and it is a private document. The only people who are entitled to see this document are the beneficiaries. Privacy is important in reducing disputes because unlike Wills, which must be probated, a half-way smart attorney would not send an heir that may dispute the validity of the document a certified letter from an attorney. In many cases, when a person gets a certified letter from an attorney, they hire an attorney. This attorney advises his or her client that they have a case. Hence, litigation arises.

Another way to avoid litigation is set up your estate plan with these conflicts in mind. A good estate planning attorney will anticipate disputes because they hear common and uncommon estate concerns. Thus, it is difficult to anticipate a will contest if you do not recognize a potential conflict. A good estate planning attorney is necessary to achieve your giving goals in a cost effective manner.

Written by:
Sean L. Robertson, Attorney at Law
Robertson Law Group, LLC
Serving Cook, DuPage, & Will Counties
w) 312-498-6080 or f) 312-377-2480

Check out our two blogs: or

Monday, May 18, 2009

Homestead Exemption and Asset Protection

A homestead exemption is an exemption that is granted by your estate for equity in your home. Thus, homestead exemptions are important when you receive a judgment against you or your wife.

Today, I spoke with two prospects: one from Florida, which has a generous homestead exemption (unlimited) and another from California, which gives a $50,000 exemption for single persons and $75,000 for married persons that reside in their personal residence at the time of the judgment.

Thus, the homestead exemption is the part of your real estate that is exempt from creditors.

Sean L. Robertson, Esq.
Robertson Law Group, LLC
9923 S. Ridgeland Avenue, Suite 99
Chicago Ridge, Illinois 60415\
w) 312-498-6080 f) 312-377-2480

Key words: Asset Protection, homestead exemption

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Todd Stroger and Federal Tax Lien Asset Protection

Yesterday, the news media in Chicago, Illinois published information about the Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and his federal tax lien. A federal tax lien is a notice by the IRS, which means that a person, business, or organization owes the IRS for back owed taxes. Why is this important? This is important because the IRS can force Todd Stroger and his wife to pay his unpaid taxes or foreclose his house. Thus, a notice of federal tax lien is an scary notice to receive. This blog is not about Todd Stroger and whether he is a bad guy or woman or whether a good politician. In Cook County, Todd Stroger has people that love him and hate him.

This blog is about educating the public about the need for Asset Protection. Asset Protection is about structuring your assets prior to a claim or lawsuit arising and placing your assets beyond the reach of creditors such as medical bills, IRS tax debts, partnership disputes, and medical bills/creditors. In Todd Stroger's example, facing the prospect of having your house foreclosed if you do not pay the IRS is a scary proposition. It is scary because the IRS is a creditor you do not want against you. If Todd Stroger had his assets such as his home properly protected, the IRS or any creditor would not be in a position to foreclose his house. How was Todd Stroger's house titled? I am assuming that Todd Stroger and his wife owned their house jointly as joint tenants, which means that if one spouse deceases, than the other spouse inherits the house. The disadvantage with joint tenancy is one of the spouse's creditors can force a sale of their house when a judgment has been entered against them. Thus, in our example, the IRS can foreclose on the Stroger's house despite being current with his current mortgage company.

How Should You Structure Your Property?

Tenancy by Entirety is a way of owning property with a husband and wife. With tenancy by entirety, you and your wife own your personal residence but a judgment by the husband or wife does not attach to the property. Thus, the IRS could not force a sale of the Stroger's house. Tenancy by Entirety is a way in State of Illinois of owning property, which is exempt from creditors such as the IRS, credit card companies, hospital companies, and other creditors.

By all means, I strongly recommend that people pay their taxes on time and be good citizens. Unfortunately in life, bad things happen to people. In case of these bad things, it is better to be properly protected from lawsuits and creditors.

A better way to own your personal residence is in a Private Land Trust. With a Private Land Trust, one still is the beneficiary of their house but it appears that a Title Insurance Company is the owner. Why is this important? Privacy is a major asset protection tool. In a Private Land Trust, the only people that know who owns your home is the Private Land Trust Company. Simply put, it is easy to find out that you own your home, but the real power of a Private Land Trust is that judgments and liens do not attach to Private Land Trusts. Thus, you can get a judgment in your name and either not pay the judgment (judgment proof) or negotiate a favorable settlement with the creditor and pay a low percentage of the debt due to it being doubtful as to their ability to collect on the judgment.

Sean Robertson, Esq. is an Asset Protection Attorney concentrating in Wills & Trusts, Asset Protection, Elder law, and Probate & Guardianship law. Sean Robertson may be reached at 312-498-6080 or

Robertson Law Group, LLC
9923 S. Ridgeland Avenue, Suite 99
Chicago Ridge, Il 60415
Serving Cook County, DuPage, & Will Counties

Friday, May 1, 2009

How a Disabled Adult Can Discharge a Guardianship?

I had a prospect ask me this question yesterday and the answer is simply write your Presiding Judge of your Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over your guardianship matter.

As a disabled person, you have legal rights and setting up a guardian is an important restriction of your legal right. Typically, when you are served your Summons for Petition of Appointment of Guardian, it will explain to you your legal rights.

Sean Robertson is an attorney that concentrates in Probate & Guardianship, Wills & Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Entity Selection Planning, & Asset Protection planning. Sean Robertson can be reached at 312-498-6080 or