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Estate Taxes

With the significant increase in the federal estate tax exemption in recent years, the focus for many clients has turned from estate tax planning to income tax planning.

Fifteen years ago the estate tax exclusion amount was $675,000. Today the federal exemption is $5.43 million and in 2016 will be $5.45 million. The Illinois estate tax exemption, however, is stuck at $4 million, which is still sufficiently high to allow most decedent’s estates to avoid filing an estate tax return and paying the estate tax.

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Four recent court decisions remind creditors that significant consequences can result if they fail to follow bankruptcy rules:

▪ Do not take action against a debtor in violation of the bankruptcy court’s automatic stay.

In In re Humbert, after a tenant filed for bankruptcy, his landlord filed an action for possession and to collect over $9,000 in back rent. The landlord then called, texted and e-mailed the tenant to collect payment and to obtain possession – all of which without obtaining relief from the bankruptcy court’s automatic stay.

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It is not unusual for unmarried couples to purchase homes together. Typically, couples take title as joint tenants, meaning that on the death of one of them, title automatically vests in the survivor. If instead they take title as tenants in common, it is almost always on a 50-50 basis.

Problems arise, however, if the relationship ends. What happens to the equity in the residence? What if one partner has paid considerably more than the other to create the equity, whether through the down payment or mortgage payments? What if one has paid to maintain and even improve the home? Can couples count on the courts to recognize and allocate the home’s equity proportionately?


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Concealed Carry Act

Illinois’s new Firearm Concealed Carry Act presents most businesses with at least two issues. First, businesses must decide whether to allow customers and other visitors to bring firearms into their stores or offices. Second, they must decide whether to allow employees to bring firearms into the workplace.

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First Time Landlords

For a variety of reasons, the economy has produced a number of new residential landlords and tenants. In addition to preparing themselves for calls in the middle of the night about broken furnaces and plugged toilets, first-time landlords should understand the legal requirements involved with renting houses. A sampling of these laws is as follows:

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