Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why Incorporate Your Business?

I spoke with a start up business today that was asking about incorporation and drafting a basic business contract for her customers. Many business owners delay incorporating because they feel that cash flow and capital will increase after the business has been around for awhile. I also started with this same rational before I incorporated my business. From a practical standpoint, I understand the logic. On the other hand, the best time to incorporate your business is from the beginning. The reason is because you are likely the best capitalized at this point. Furthermore, many start up entrepreneurs fail to understand the risks of entrepreneurship. I know that I was one of those entrepreneurs that had a optimistic view, but when loses begin to add up, incorporation is a big concern. The benefit of incorporating a business is the ability to leave the expenses and debt if your business enterprise does not make it.

The second point to my blog today is a simple basic business contract should not costs a ton of money at an attorney's office. I believe that you can find a good attorney at a reasonable price to draft a simple to complex contract. Some entrepreneurs overpay an attorney and an attorney charging $275 per hour does not mean that that attorney is better than a more reasonably priced attorney.

Sean Robertson is an entrepreneur and business attorney in downtown Chicago and Naperville, Illinois. We can be reached at (312)-854-7102 and we assist business owners with incorporations, drafting basic to complex business agreements, and purchase and sale of a business.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Motion for Default Judgment Against Defendants

A Motion for Default Judgment is a written Motion requesting the Court to do a certain action such as find that a Defendant owes the Plaintiff a sum of money. For example, a Plaintiff, Joe Smith, files a lawsuit against Defendants, ABC, Inc. and John Smith, the owner individually. After a period of time, if the co-Defendants do not file an appearance and/or file an answer or response to the lawsuit, the Plaintiff will file a Motion for Default Judgment.

Simply put, a default judgment is a judgment where the Plaintiffs are granted their request because the Defendant failed to appear or other plead a Defense. In the Circuit Court of Cook County at the Daley Center, I often hear Defendants argue that they were not properly served or they did not know of a lawsuit or judgment.

In order to get a default judgment, the Plaintiff must prove that they properly served and notified the Defendant of the lawsuit. Often times, a Defendant may either forget about the lawsuit or not have the money to defend themselves. The key point is a Defendant should respond to the lawsuit and appropriately defend it.

If you get a default judgment in Cook County or Dupage County entered against you, Robertson Law Group, LLC can assist you vacate the default judgment. Vacating a default judgment prior to thirty (30) days after a default judgment is much easier to accomplish. Courts and judges may freely grant relief against a default judgment entered within 30 days of the default judgment.
A default judgment or otherwise known as a ex-parte default judgement entered and attempted to be vacated after the thirty (30) day period is harder to vacate. However, if you have simply been unserved the lawsuit, you can bring a Motion to Quash Service of Process.

Sean Robertson is Managing Partner of Robertson Law Group, LLC and he has over seven (7) years of legal experience. Sean Robertson graduated from DePaul University College of Law and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Sean Robertson can assist you with Motions to Vacate Default Judgments and your civil and business litigation legal needs. As an asset protection attorney, we concentrate in helping Defendants especially business owners. We can be reached at (312)-854-7102 or www.RobertsonLawGroup.com (email: sean@robertsonlawgroup.com).

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Asset Protection & Failure

The main point of today's topic "Asset Protection & Failure" is because most business owners and professionals have a sense of false sense of security until a lawsuit or judgment faces them. At this point, they realize that their foundation was improper for a long time but they did not make asset protection and lawsuit protection an important priority.

In many cases, I see entrepreneurs that have failed significantly and pay a terrible price for their failure. Precisely their failure was a misunderstanding of how important business and personal asset preservation is to a business owner or professionals' financial well-being.

What is this failure and the consequences?

This failure is bankruptcy, keeping business debt that should have been kept in the past by incorporating a new business. Simply put, the failure was failing to understand the proper corporate and legal formalities such as incorporating their business but keeping themselves as the only owner of their business. Instead a better solution is to make an s corporation owner of an Corporation or an LLC. This way in case of a business failure, you can dissolve that business and isolate those business debts to that failed business venture. Furthermore, every business owner and professional must have a protection plan that protects their house or properties from liens, lawsuits, and judgments.

When you own a business, whether you are a passive or active investor, lawsuits are inevitable. The biggest mistake is partnership or business disputes. Each partner may be personally liable for a big debt that is not dischargable in a bankruptcy proceeding.

In conclusion, you do not have to learn failure and your mistake the hard way. Make asset protection important by educating yourself on what is asset protection. Second, you should always have a protection plan against personal guarantees and an exit strategy in case your business fails.

Sean Robertson is a business and asset protection attorney in downtown Chicago assisting entrepreneurs and professionals with asset protection and business litigation surrounding personal guarantees, partnership and business disputes, and representation when a business owner has a judgment or is expecting a judgment against them. Sean can be reached at (312)-854-7102 and our website is www.RobertsonLawGroup.com.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Motion to Vacate Default Judgment Under 2-1301

In Illinois, a default judgment is entered when a person or entity does not show up for court. There are two (2) rules in the Circuit Court of Cook County or Illinois regarding default judgments. The first one is governed by 2-1301, which essentially says that a Judge should liberally vacate a default judgment as long as a petition to vacate a default judgment has been filed within thirty (30) days of the entry of a default judgment. The second standard is a more difficult standard, which is when a motion to vacate default judgment has been filed after 30 days from the entry of a default judgment.

For example, this morning my client had a hearing on a 2-1301 motion. At issue was whether our client filed a motion to vacate default judgment within thirty days after the entry of a default judgment. In this case, the Defendant had gotten a default judgment entered against her on August 24, 2011. The Attorney General made a mistake when drafting the default judgment order and put that the default judgment was in the amount of $74,000. On September 26, 2011, the Attorney General's Office corrected their mistake and the judgment amount was for $75,000 instead of $74,000 (figures are not exact but the example is still applicable). Our client hired our law firm around October 15, 2011. Thus, even if we would have known that the default judgment was actually entered on August 24, 2011 instead of September 26, 2011, our client still could not have filed a motion to vacate default judgment within thirty days of August 24, 2011.

In the instant matter, the Court ruled that the judgment date was August 24, 2011 and a clerical error occurred instead of a substantive or major error. Thus, our client lost the motion to vacate default judgment because it was not properly filed within thirty (30) days.

In January 2012, we have a hearing date to determine whether 2-1401 is applicable. 2-1401 is when a motion to vacate a default judgment is filed after the expiration of thirty (30) days after the entry of a default judgment. There are three (3) major factors that a court will consider with a properly brought 2-1401 motion to vacate default judgment. The first issue is whether the Defendant has been reasonably diligent in responding in a timely manner to the underline case. Simply put, the court wants to assess how responsible was the Defendant in keeping up with their court case and whether they acted in a reasonably diligent manner after they found out they had a default judgment. The second factor is that the default judgment was not entered in excess of a year from the date of entry of default judgment. The third factor is the Defendant has a meritorious case, which means that the Defendant has a reasonable dispute and a case to defend themselves in the underlying case.

Sean Robertson is managing partner of Robertson Law Group, LLC, which concentrates in civil and commercial litigation and asset protection for business owners and individuals. Sean Robertson deals with a lot of Motion to Vacate Default Judgment issues and go to trial and hearings on these issues. We can be reached at (312)-498-6080 or Sean@RobertsonLawGroup.com.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Why A Husband and Wife Should Not Own The Same Business?

Why a Husband and Wife Should Not Own The Same Business?
A husband and wife should not own the same business for one (1) major reason: Asset Protection. In today's economy, business owners are filing litigation claims against Defendants and being sued by their vendors and their customers among other people. In many states, a spouse is not responsible for the other spouse's liability concerns. This is not true in community property states such as California. But, in Illinois, a spouse is not liable for their spouse's debts (with some exceptions). Husbands and Wives generally want to each own a equal percentage in the family business. This is a worthy goal, but there are several ways to give husband and wife control without setting up additional liability concerns. First, one spouse could be an employee of the company. If an Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), an LLC can be set up in two major ways. The first way is a member managed LLC, which means that the members or owners run the day to day operations. In this example, each spouse would be an owner or if you follow my recommendation, only one (1) spouse would own your LLC or Corporation. The second way is a manager managed LLC, which is similar to the way a Corporation is structured. Here, the members or owners appoint a manager(s) such as a spouse. In this situation, one spouse could be a member or owner and both spouses could be managers of the LLC. It is generally much harder to prove liability of a manager than a member or owner. Similarly, a corporation is structured where you have shareholders and the shareholders appoint or elect a board of directors. For example, a corporation could be owned by one (1) spouse and appoint both spouses as directors of the corporation....President...Vice President. Again, the benefit of only one spouse owning an LLC or Corporation is if there is business failure or a lawsuit, one spouse is safe from lawsuits. Or, I should say safer from lawsuits. This asset protection type may be the difference between bankruptcy and more importantly, a nightmare. Today, business owners and their creditors are suing one another and many business owners are facing adversarial claims in bankruptcy court, which is threatening their ability to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If one spouse is immune from the lawsuits, the other spouse can assume key responsibilities for the family finances.

In conclusion, it is vital that a husband and wife should own the same business. During a divorce, a court of law or divorce attorney can treat the business as a marital asset. A marital asset is an asset that is created during the marriage of a husband and wife. Thus, a husband and wife each technically own fifty (50) percent of marital assets. Therefore, in a divorce scenario, whether one spouse technically owns the Corporation or an LLC will not be a big deal because the business is a marital asset.

Sean Robertson is an asset protection attorney that concentrates in business counseling, asset protection, and estate planning for business owners and individuals. Sean Robertson is Managing Partner of Robertson Law Group, LLC and may be reached at (312)-854-7102. Our website is www.RobertsonLawGroup.com.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Medical Bills and Asset Protection

Today a friend of mine asked me about whether you can file bankruptcy on medical bills. Yes, you can but Chapter 7 bankruptcy only makes sense if your assets do not exceed the amount of the medial bills. Often times, if your assets exceed or are close in number to your medical bills, ba baby boomers do not want to risk their retirement to pay their medical bills. In contrasts, Chapter 13 is a way to repaying your debt over time. In this situation, a person re-pays a portion of their debt. I am all for people re-paying their debts, but obviously, when a repayment of your debt concerns your financial future, most people will think long and hard about this. In many cases, repaying a portion or percentage of the medical bills is the best solution. The key point of this blog is the importance of pre-planning an advanced planned asset protection plan before any lawsuits are thought of. Asset protection is vital because it protects your hard earned assets.

Sean Robertson is an asset protection attorney in downtown Chicago, which concentrates in distressed planning, judgment planning, and bankruptcy counseling. Sean Robertson may be reached at (312)-854-7102 and our website is www.RobertsonLawGroup.com.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Entrepreneurship and Legal Protection

As a fellow entrepreneur, I understand how the legal decisions affect your business decisions. Often times, entrepreneurs focus on how to grow their business and pay little attention (if any) on how to protect the valuable assets of their business. In today's market, lawsuits and creditors claims are increasing and many entrepreneurs have taken out lines of credit and take significant risks. These risks often times are not covered by insurance or the entrepreneur does not have the capital to ensure the risks.

Asset protection is increasingly becoming important. Many entrepreneurs falsely believe that an Limited Liability Corporation or otherwise known as a "LLC" or S Corporation will protect them from business lawsuits. Unfortunately, many business owners have found out the hard way that their business entity was ill-equipped to protect them against lawsuits and creditor claims.

What do you mean? Simply put, business owners are being sued in their personal and business capacity. All of a sudden their home or investment real estate and personal assets are exposed to their business creditors. Additionally, business owners and entrepreneurs also sign personal guarantees and in difficult and trying times, entrepreneurs breach their agreements.

Sean Robertson is a business and entrepreneurial attorney that concentrates in asset protection, corporate law, and wealth preservation. Sean Robertson is based in Chicago, Illinois and is managing partner of Robertson Law Group, LLC. Robertson Law Group, LLC is an asset protection law firm concentrating in asset protection, business counseling and litigation, and estate planning.

Sean Robertson may be reached at (312)-854-7102. Our website is www.RobertsonLawGroup.com.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Commercial Litigation and Asset Protection for Business Owners

This morning, I met with a fellow entrepreneur who has a legal case at the Daley Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois at the Circuit Court of Cook County-1st Law Division. His case stemmed from a real estate company that he used to own. His story is a similar story that business owners are facing everyday. Business owners are being sued by their customers, vendors, and others. Most often, business owners have bought into the illusion of limited liability protection provided by LLCS and Corporations. Unfortunately, most business attorneys do not inform a shareholder or member of an LLC that there is a good chance that they will be sued personally if a lawsuit is commenced. Later on this afternoon, I met with a father and son team that have a successful closely held business. Their objective is to gift the business to the son. In one of the topics, we discussed is it is better to have his company, ABC, Inc. (made up name) to be owned by a new entity, S corporation, instead of him personally. The business purpose behind this is most creditor's attorneys will sue the ABC, Inc. and S corporation and not the client personally. If the Client was a member or shareholder in his personal name, the Client gets named in the lawsuit. This is important for several reasons. The first reason is the costs of paying for litigation can and does bankrupt a lot of business owners. My main point is asset protection and wealth preervation are critical for business owners before a litigation arises.

Sean Robertson is a commercial litigation and wealth preservation attorney that concentrates in litigation, estate planning, and asset protection for business owners. Unlike most litigation attorneys, Sean Robertson focuses on distressed business owners and giving them their legal and financial options.

Sean Robertson is Managing Partner of Robertson Law Group, LLC, which concentrates in asset protection and commercial litigation. Asset protection is a combination of estate planning, business law, litigation, and bankruptcy planning. Robertson Law Group, LLC may be reached at (312)-854-7102 and our website is www.RobertsonLawGroup.com.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Distressed Business Planning, Asset Protection, and Litigation

In today's market, distressed business planning and asset protection is becoming a more relevant legal concentration. Distressed business planning is a combination of laws involving judgments, asset protection, business law, and bankruptcy counseling. Often times, these interrelated areas of law affect a small to medium sized business owner and the options that they have available. In many cases, a small to medium sized business owner must consider whether Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy law is a good option for them. Obviously, many business owners and people are reluctant about using the bankruptcy code as a legal option. In many cases, a business owner or individual may negotiate their way out of debt and financial distress. In Cook County, Illinois, the Circuit Court of Cook County is filled with judgments and business owners that are facing default judgments. A default judgment is a court order where a Defendant failed to show up for a court and a Plaintiff got a judgment. The Plaintiff's judgment is called a "default judgment" because the Plaintiff got a judgment based on Defendant's lack of showing up for court.

Robertson Law Group, LLC is a business and asset protection law firm that concentrates in assisting small to medium sized business owners and individuals with their asset protection, business, bankruptcy, and litigation legal needs. In many instances, this unique niche is required to understand the unique and complex legal issues facing you.

Robertson Law Group, LLC is located at 35 East Wacker Drive, Suite 935, Chicago, Illinois 60601. We primarily practice in Chicago, Illinois at the Richard Daley Center and in the counties of Cook, Dupage, and Will Counties.

Sean Robertson is the Managing Partner and may be reached at (312)-854-7102.

Monday, March 21, 2011

False Sense of Security & Business Owners

I have a friend of mine that reminds me of many business owners and the problems that face them. In many cases, a person has assets, is incorporated, has real estate investment properties, and fails to adequately take protecting their money and assets seriously.

I have not talked to my friend about this yet, but one lawsuit or judgment can threaten your whole family's livlihood and/or your family's financial future. In my friend's case, she wants to pay for her kid's college education, which is currently nine (9) years old. One lawsuit would threaten her kid's college education and even their financial future. She has a business and is a creative person and I doubt she seriously is concerned about a lawsuit. She reminds me of a typical client's story.

She does business with some small and big vendors and one contract dispute can threaten her family's financial future. Business is unforseeable at times and disputes are natural in business or an injury. In most cases, a Defendant does not have insurance to pay for a breach of contract or partnership dispute. You cannot insure these types of loses. After paying a lot of attorney's fees, a big judgment can threaten your children and your financial futures.

If you are like most business owners or professionals, Asset protection must be important because one lawsuit can impact your future. In today's economy, I have witnessed this alot within individuals who are 55 and older. Unfortunately, this failure threatens their retirement and their ability to live out their lives in peace and financial security.

Sean Robertson is an Asset Protection Attorney based in downtown Chicago. Sean Robertson may be reached at (312) 498-6080.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Is Asset Protection for Rich People?

No, asset protection is not for rich people. In fact, ordinary middle class Americans should have an asset protection plan especially if you are a self-employed professional or have your own business. For Physicians, Dentists, Doctors, Construction Owners, and many other professionals, your incorporation does not limit your malpractice exposure.

Most professionals have malpractice insurance to cover malpractice claims. However, there are a lot of liabilities that are not covered by insurance. These type of risks include business and partnership disputes, breach of contract claims, and any type of fraud claim.

In many cases, breach of contract claims and business partnership disputes are the most common types of litigation. Generally, one files a breach of contract claim or has a breach of contract claim filed against them when they are owed money or they owe somebody money. In today's economy, many business owners are being sued in record numbers. Furthermore, we have a lot of mortgage foreclosures. Many of these homes that are in foreclosure are owed by people that own multiple properties. Mortgage foreclosures threaten real estate owners entire assets including other properties. These items are most likely occuring to middle-class America. Rich people are not experiencing a lot of mortgage foreclosures because they have the resources to avoid a mortgage foreclosure.

In conclusion, asset protection is for anybody that has a legitimate risks of litigation. This could include all of society because litigation is rampant and it is hard to predict when litigation may occur. For example, Charlie Sheen could have never predicted he would be involve with a civil litigation case a year ago. Litigation is generally unexpected and therefore, it is important to plan your estate plan and asset protection plan prior to a lawsuit or the risks of one.

Sean Robertson is an asset protection attorney in Chicago, Illinois. Sean Robertson may be reached at (312) 498-6080.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Are You One Lawsuit Away From Poverty?

This blog is about a crisis that is occuring in Chicago and Cook County and across the country. Small business owners and individuals are being sued at record numbers. Whether it is a mortgage foreclosure, failure to pay your credit card or bank loan, or whether a business owes you money due to their financial problems. In my experience, one lawsuit threatens the viability of many families. Lawsuits and financial distress cause headaches and stress. I know because I represent many people and business owners that have been sued. It is no fun trust me. Bankruptcy often times is not a simple answer because if you are over the age of 50, most people do not want to start over. More importantly, there are a lot of people and business owners that have considerable equity. The fear of losing all of your real estate or assets is a frightening thing. Especially considering many of you are people and business owners that have experienced good economic times. The recession of the last several years have threatened the hope and American dream for you and many people.

My simple advice to people is make sure your assets are protected to prevent a lawsuit from destroying you and your family's life. Money means nothing, but unfortunately, financial struggles mean a lack of hope and faith that tomorrow will be better than today. Hope and faith are serious issues because faith is a belief in the unknown that things will be better. If you are like me, these difficult times brought me closer to God. Fortunately, for me, I paid off almost all of my debt. However, I understand many of you are facing the trials of the IRS and collection attorneys and collection agencies. This is not a fun process and one that I am confident that you would do differently if you had a choice. For many of you, you are considering whether a strategic mortgage foreclosure makes sense although you firmly believe in paying your debts. I understand but realistically, some people should consider a strategic foreclosure. But, you should be wise and develop an appropriate asset protection plan prior to this eventuality. Otherwise, your deficiency judgment may result in you losing your other real estate properties and your financial security. You may face a levy of your bank accounts, which is no fun. The appropriate asset protection and exemption planning advice can help you prevent financial ruin. This morning, I am going to file a Motion for a small business owner that had $600 frozen by a creditor. This is a small amount of money, but I am sure to this Defendant, this is a huge sum of money. Bank freezes always occur at the worst moment. Be wise and get an asset protection plan to prevent life as I have just described. Things can be different.

Sean Robertson is an asset protection and lawsuit liability planning attorney concentrating in asset protection, exemption planning, and lawsuit planning for small business owners and individuals. Sean Robertson may be reached at (312) 498-6080.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to Protect Your Homestead Exemption From Liens and Judgments?

There are two primary ways to protect your homestead exemption in Cook County, Illinois against liens and judgments. The first way is to transfer your house or property into a Private Land Trust. A Private Land Trust is a strategy that transfers your property out of you and your spouse's personal name. For married couples, the best method to protect against liens, judgments, and foreclosures are tenancy by entirety. Tenancy by entirety is a way of owning your personal residence in Illinois for married couples that protects one spouse from a judgment from the other spouse. Essentially, a creditor cannot foreclose your house if you and your spouse have your house as tenants by entirety. Combine this with a Private Land Trust which protects homestead exemptions against liens and you have a powerful asset protection strategy. It is not perfect and you should consult with an asset protection attorney.

The second method is to place the home or real estate into an Irrevocable Trust. An irrevocable trust places the property outside of your personal name. A creditor cannot place a lien or judgment on your house if you do not own the house. An irrevocable trust is like a fictional person and typically, your trustee is a close family friend or relative. Please be aware of the fraudulent transfer statute in Illinois. Generally, one cannot intentionally defraud a creditor of their right to collect on a judgment. In the right instances, an irrevocable trust is a powerful asset protection tool that prevents liens and judgments from attaching in Illinois.

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Will a Creditor Foreclose on Your Home?

Today, I spoke with a client that has a common problem among many Defendants that have received a judgment at the Circuit Court of Cook County at the Daley Center. This client is 66 years old, has significant equity in their home, and has a judgment, which they cannot afford to pay. For example, let's assume that we have a Defendant that is sixty years old, has $50,000 left on their mortgage, and their house is worth $225,000. The Defendant has a judgment of $100,000.

In the State of Illinois, a Defendant may claim a $15,000 homestead exemption per person. Thus, a married Defendant has the right to claim $30,000 worth of homestead exemption. A homestead exemption is only applicable to your primary residence in Cook County. With the above example, this is the Defendant's analysis. The creditor must first pay the $50,000 left on the Client's mortgage, Defendant gets to keep $30,000 and Defendnat has available equity of $145,000. In the above example, a Defendant has a significant risk that their house will be foreclosed to satisfy the $100,000 judgment at the Daley Center.

However, in many cases, the Plaintiff has the ability to place a lien against the home and even foreclose the home if payment of the judgment is not paid. In reality, a Plaintiff threatens to foreclose a house because it is a powerful scare tactic. Often times, a Defendant can settle for less than the judgment amount because a Plaintiff does not want to pay the attorney's fees, costs and other costs associating with foreclosure of a home. Plus, more importantly, foreclosures in Cook County can be dragged on for a significant period of time. All these factors should be played when negotiating a settlement with a Plaintiff.

Remember that a Defendant at a Citation to Discover Asset's Proceedings should obtain counsel if the judgment is sufficient to warrant an attorney. In many cases, an Defendant's attorney will significantly save a Defendant money and more importantly, give the Defendant peace of mind to sleep at night.

Sean Robertson is an experienced asset protection and post-judgment attorney at the Daley Center. Sean Robertson may be reached at (312) 498-6080.

Critical Daley Center Post-Judgment Proceedings: Citation to Discover Assets

The most common mistake I keep on hearing about are Defendants getting their bank accounts frozen and their money taking after a judgment takes place. A judgment is essentially a ruling by the Circuit Court of Cook County at the Richard J. Daley Center that a Plaintiff is entitled to a certain amount of money as a measurement of damages.

I got two phone calls today with a similar story. This story is Plaintiffs catching a Defendant by surprise within 30 to 60 days after a judgment. After a judgment is recorded, a Plaintiff files paperwork called a Citation to Discover Assets. A Citation to Discover Assets are a deposition under oath with the purpose of finding your money and assets to collect on money that is owed to you. A common tactic is fear because Defendants are likely to pay a Plaintiff if they fear something such as a lien against their home or losing their home. The problem is most Defendant's attorneys do not properly explain the Post-Judgment proceedings because most Defendant attorneys do not practice a lot in the Post-Judgment proceedings. Defendants must expect that a Plaintiff will issue a Wage Garnishment Order to their bank and freeze their accounts. This will cause NSF fees, bounced checks, and Plaintiff to get money that Defendant is legally entitled to. Most Defendants fail to anticipate this and know how to properly prepare for this. In Illinois, a Defendant has certain exemptions under the law. The most common exemption is $4,000 personal property wildcard exemption. This wildcard exemption is to allow a Defendant to protect their bank account or cars (i.e. personal property) from a Plaintiff. However, most Defendants do not know how to properly file the paperwork claiming their wildcard exemption. This means Defendants lose their money and are caught off guard during already difficult and trying financial circumstances. An experienced attorney that anticipates a Plaintiff's attorneys' responses prior to them, can inform and educate a Client on what to expect. A prepared and educated a Defendant is a Defendant that is more financially secure.

Sean Robertson is an attorney that assists Defendants in Cook County at the Circuit Court of Cook County with post-judgment and post-trial litigation. Sean Robertson can be reached at (312) 498-6080 or Sean@RobertsonLawGroup.com.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What happens when you get a Judgment in Cook County, Illinois?

A judgment is a lawsuit that was successful. A judgment enables a Plaintiff to perform certain actions against you or your business in order to collect the money that is owed to them. In Cook County, Illinois, a judgment is enforced in Room 1401 of the Richard J. Daley Center. The purpose of Room 1401 is to coordinate Citations to Discover Asset's proceedings. Essentially, a Plaintiff must file appropriate paperwork and give notice to the Defendant to show up. A Defendant is sworn in under oath and is asked a series of questions. These questions are essentially designed to find out whether you have any money that the Plaintiff can take. These assets include bank accounts, business interests, real estate, cars, personal property, accounts receivable and other assets.

In Illinois, a Defendant has a $4,000 personal property exemption, which means that a Defendant can protect up to $4,000 of personal property without the Plaintiff seizing this money/assets. For example, a common asset that is frozen is a banking account. If you own a checking account with $5,000, you have a legal right to exempt $4,000 in personal funds. Anything above $4,000 may legally be seized by the Plaintiff. Practically speaking, a Plaintiff will issue a Garnishment Citation to your Bank and your bank will set aside all of your monies in your bank account. The Plaintiff is entitled to every penny unless you file appropriate paperwork at the Circuit Court of Cook County in a timely manner.

After a judgment occurs, typically thirty days will go by and the Plaintiff will begin collecting against your bank accounts. As a rule of thumb, a Defendant should be aware that the Plaintiff will try to surprise them and freeze their bank account. Thus, a Defendant should be careful about writing checks because the checks will bounce and NSFs and bank fees will be substantial. The good news is with an attorney, you can get a court order to force the Bank to waive the Bank fees if your funds are protected by federal and/or state law.

Moreover, when a judgment occurs, a lien automatically is placed on any real estate that you own in your personal name. This is one reason it is important to have a Private Land Trust set up. A Private Land Trust prevents a judgment from attaching to your real estate. However, you cannot fraudulently transfer your house or investment property into a Private Land Trust to prevent a judgment being attached to your property when proceedings are occuring. Preventing a lien against your property interest is important because you must pay off all liens prior to selling your real estate. Therefore, a lien may prevent you from ever being able to sell your real estate without paying off a lien. At first glance, many people desire to pay off their bills. However, there are times when it is simply impossible to pay your judgment off. I had one particular client that desired to settle his judgment until he realized that the interest alone on his case was over $5,000 per month. It simply was impossible and impractical for him and his wife to pay this judgment. Fortunately for them, they had hired my law firm to protect their assets. Our asset protection plan worked as planned.

Sean Robertson is an Asset Protection Attorney for Physicians, Dentists, and Business Owners. If you need an asset protection attorney, Sean Robertson is happy to assist you. Sean Robertson may be reached at (312) 498-6080.

Charlie Sheen & Unexpected Lawsuits

The world is witnessing an interesting display to say the least involving Charlie Sheen. The case involving Charlie Sheen entails an important lesson, which is a lawsuit often times occurs at an unexpected time. In Charlie Sheen's case, there is no insurance that one can purchase that protects one from a breach of contract claim. This is important to remember because most business professionals and physicians assume that insurance is the answer. Unfortunately, in many instances, insurance is not available.

I represented one physician that got a huge judgment against him and his insurance policy did not cover a claim for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. I know it sounds like a breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claim is difficult and would not apply to you. The truth is these are fairly common claims and a physician should not assume these claims would not apply to yourself.

Asset protection is vital prior to a conflict or litigation matter. I just got off the phone with an attorney that is threatening a fraudulent transfer lawsuit against one of my clients. My client allegedly transferred assets of his corporation individual prior to filing bankruptcy. This technically is a fraudulent transfer because it was intended to defraud, hinder, or delay payment of a creditor. Obviously, my client may claim that this transaction is not a fraudulent transfer and was finalized for adequate consideration. Adequate consideration means that the sale of the business was done for fair market value.

In conclusion, asset protection is critical for business owners, physicians, and dentists. In many cases, physicians are afraid of malpractice lawsuits, which is a legitimate concern. However, the unexpected lawsuit such as Charlie Sheen's example is much more likely. A breach of contract or partnership disputes are the most likely examples of unexpected lawsuits.

Sean Robertson is a corporate and asset protection attorney concentrating in estate planning, business law, and asset protection for physicians and dentists. Sean Robertson may be reached at (312) 498-6080 or Sean@RobertsonLawGroup.com.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Why Estate Planning For Seniors is Important?

Estate planning is a field of law that prepares wills, powers of attorney, and trusts for seniors upon their incapacity or death. Simply put, estate planning is making sure your legal affairs are in order if something serious happens to you. One of my client’s passed away within the past two (2) weeks and his family affairs are complex and a mess.
Seniors and people often have complex family situations, which make the inheritance of assets an interesting story. Furthermore, family members and friends state that their family or friends promised them an inheritance and often times, this promise or believed promise does not occur. Despite any oral or written promises, the only way to guarantee that your legal affairs are in order is to follow the proper laws.
In the area of estate planning, wills and living trusts and powers of attorney are the key documents, which distribute your assets upon a death or incapacity. At a minimum, every senior should have a will, power of attorney for property, and power of attorney for healthcare. A will is a written device, which explains your legal wishes and often times, is notarized and witnessed by at least two (2) impartial witnesses. A power of attorney is a document where a senior grants another person the power to make decisions in case of their incapacity. A power of attorney is effective for the duration of one’s life or only during a brief period of time. There are two (2) types of powers of attorney: property and healthcare.
There are critical differences between a will and a living trust. Often times, a living trust is called a “Revocable Living Trust” because it may be amended and it serves its’ purpose during your life. Unlike a will, a living trust is equipped to deal with your property while you are alive. A will is a document that distributes your property upon your death. A living trust is a powerful legal tool because it avoids the pain of a court proceeding called probate court. Probate court is a court that hears claims brought by family, friends, and creditors of a deceased person. A living trust is also a private document unlike a will, which is public information.
In conclusion, the topic of estate planning is a difficult but necessary topic. In most families, families are complex and have step parents, step children, disabled children, and many other complex situations that make senior’s estate planning more complex than most seniors realize.

Monday, January 31, 2011

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

A Revocable Living Trust or otherwise known as a "Living Trust" is an estate planning and asset protection tool, which helps provide a smooth transition upon a death or incapacity. Unlike a will, a Revocable Living Trust avoids probate court and guardianship court. A will is a legal document, which distributes your property upon your death. A will does not deal with any planning issues while you are alive unlike a Revocable Living Trust.

Additionally, a Revocable Living Trust is a private document, which is not public information like a will. Typically, a Revocable Living Trust is coupled with a pour over will. A pour over will is a will, which only is applicable if you did not fully fund your Revocable Living Trust. Thus, a pour over will is a catchall exception, if you purchased an item like an automobile and forget to properly title it in your Revocable Living Trust's name. Often times, clients title new assets without much thought about their Revocable Living Trust. This is why we give our clients a written letter at the Trust Signing, which clearly describes the dos and don'ts for their Revocable Living Trust. Titling of one's assets are critical for your Revocable Living Trust to work as intended.

In my opinion, a Revocable Living Trust is a powerful asset protection tool because it minimizes disputes. Disputes are minimized because privacy protection simply does not give an adversary information to fight. For example, upon a person's death, no mailings are mailed to a disinherited relative like probate court. This invites a family conflict because a certified mailing must occur, which puts the person on high alert. With a Revocable Living Trust, the disputes often times resides because the person simply has no information to take an attorney and an attorney cannot attack the will like a living trust because often times, they have no access to the Revocable Living Trust.

In conclusion, a Revocable Living Trust is an excellent estate planning tool, which should be utilized. A Revocable Living Trust also is a cost-effective item, which reduces family conflicts and often times, a price cannot be put on continuing family harmony.

Sean Robertson is an estate planning and asset protection attorney. Sean Robertson can be reached at (312) 498-6080 or (630) 364-2318. Robertson Law Group, LLC has a downtown Chicago Office and Naperville Office.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Estate Planning as an Asset Protection Tool

An effective estate plan is a good asset protection plan. First, estate planning assists you avoid probate court and guardianship. Probate court and guardianship proceedings are costly and diminish assets quickly. Second, an good estate planning avoids litigation risks and family conflicts. Third, when a probate proceeding is required, notice to your creditors is mandatory. Often times, avoidance of probate enables your loved ones and heirs to avoid certain creditors. Upon your death, a creditor has two (2) years to file a claim against the probate estate.

Sean Robertson is an estate planning and asset protection attorney that assists families and business owners determine a cost-effective estate plan that is customized to their unique legal needs.

Sean Robertson can be reached at either 630-364-2318 or 312-498-6080.

Asset Protection and High Net Worth Families

Asset protection is critical for high net worth families, business owners, physicians, and dentists. Often times, I consult with a high net worth family and they are simply unprepared for the possibility of litigation and the risks associated with litigation.

Currently, my law firm is considering filing a lawsuit against a high net worth individual and business owner in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. This gentlemen has a lot of name brand cars, but his wealth is in serious jeopardy over one (1) law suit. Most likely, my law firm understands that this gentleman is ill-prepared to face the asset exposure of litigation. Asset protection gets important to potential Defendants when they face serious risks of litigation. Often times, asset protection is either minimally effective at this time or simply to late for real asset protection. However, I recommend that a qualified asset protection attorney evaluate your unique situation. Asset protection late may even be better than no asset protection, but the risks do increase.

If one attempts to avoid a judgment or lawsuit by fraudulently transferring their assets away from themselves, a creditor may force the Debtor to transfer the assets back to the Debtor. Good asset protection counsel is important on this and many other issues for high net worth families.

Sean Robertson is an Attorney that concentrates in asset protection, corporate, estate planning, and litigation in the Naperville and downtown Chicago area. Sean Robertson can be reached at (630) 364-2314 or (312) 498-6080.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Private Land Trust and Asset Protection

Private land trust are a good strategy for asset protection. Private land trust have their strengths and weaknesses. However, the weakness of a private land trust can be combined with other asset protection strategies. I have a client that has a $1.6 million judgment and their real estate was in land trust and it has shielded their properties from a judgment. In normal circumstances, after a judgment is recorded at the local recorder's office such as Dupage County Recorder's Office a lien is placed against all of the real estate owned by their person or persons.

What is a Private Land Trust?
A Private Land Trust is a way of owning real estate, which provides estate planning and asset protection benefits. A Private Land Trust provides privacy and shields the ownership of a property from public record. Second, a private land trust protects against liens and judgments. Private land trust offers basic asset protection, which is not complete asset protection. However, a private land trust is a cost-effective way to provide asset protection for real estate against foreclosures and liens. A Private Land Trust also may be beneficial for estate planning because one can designate the beneficiary of a Private Land Trust. One of the reasons people go through probate court upon a person's death is ownership of real estate. Probate court is a court which supervises the assets of a deceased person when they have no will or they have a will.

In conclusion, a Private Land Trust is an excellent tool for asset protection. A Private Trust can be combined with an Limited Liability Corporation or be customized to provide better or customized asset protection.

Sean Robertson is an asset protection attorney with offices in downtown Chicago and Naperville, Illinois. Sean Robertson can be reached at (312) 498-6080 or (630) 364-2318.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Liability Planning for Real Estate Owners

Liability and asset protection planning are critical for owners of real estate such as homeowners and real estate investors. In my experience, the most vulnerable to lawsuits are owners of real estate because they have failed to adequately protect their real estate from liability exposure.

There are a couple of simple but effective strategies to minimize your liabilities. First, every owner of real estate should set up a Private Land Trust, which is a mechanisms for owning real estate. The basic benefit of a Private Land Trust are judgments and liens do not attach to Private Land Trust. A Private Land Trust is essentially a way to hold or own the title of real estate. A Private Land Trust Company or other strategies may be employed. For example, Susan Smith owns a couple of real estate investment properties and has a judgment from one property. A judgment is a finding of guilt for an amount of money that she owes somebody. A judgment automatically attaches to real estate in Illinois. Thus, after the judgment has been recorded at the Cook or Dupage County Recorder of Deed's Office, Susan Smith cannot sell any of her real estate properties without paying off her judgment. This is a very big deal if Susan Smith is over the age of 50 years old because Susan Smith may only have a certain amount of years left in the workforce. A Private Land Trust can prevent Susan Smith from selling her real estate without satisfying this judgment. For real estate investors, a lien is a big deal.

The second basic strategy is owning your investment properties with an LLC. This is a big deal because an LLC may prevent a creditor from one property attacking your other property with a valid or bogus lawsuit against you. In my experience, most real estate investors own their properties in their personal names despite knowing that this is not smart. Often times, a real estate investor gets smart after the threat of a lawsuit. Insurance is often inadequate because insurance does not cover a lot of types of lawsuits such as creditor problems with a bank loan or mortgage foreclosure.

Sean Robertson is Managing Partner of Robertson Law Group, LLC based in Naperville and downtown Chicago. Sean Robertson can be reached at either (630) 364-2318 or (312) 498-6080 or Sean@RobertsonLawGroup.com.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Asset Protection and Litigation

Asset protection is critical in today's economy. Asset protection is a legal speciality, which is designed to protect one's business and personal assets to minimize one's exposure to taxes and liability risks.

Asset protection is the difference between bankruptcy and losing everything and peace of mind. There are several tools, which are critical for asset preservation purposes. The first tool is to understand your liability risks such as whether your personal residence is structured the correct way, whether you own any investment property (which is protected), and to examine what is your liability exposure to partnership, business, or real estate litigation.

An asset protection attorney will examine your liability risks and provide practical low-cost advice to minimize your liability risks and exposures. Second, an asset protection attorney will make sure your real estate, financial, and business liability risks are minimized and properly planned for. Finally, the asset protection attorney will educate you on how to properly minimize your liability risks going forward.

Sean Robertson is managing Partner of Robertson Law Group, LLC, which concentrates in asset protection, corporate and business law, litigation, and estate planning. Sean can be reached at 312-498-6080 or 630-364-2318. Robertson Law Group, LLC has offices in Naperville and downtown Chicago, Illinois.