On August 26, 2016, governor Bruce Rauner signed a new law that requires insurance companies to find/locate beneficiaries of life insurance policies that are unclaimed in Illinois and then they would be required to pay them money that they are owed. About a dozen states already have similar laws requiring this.
The General Assembly unanimously approved the legislation in May, requiring insurers to use federal death records to identify deceased policy holders whose life insurance proceeds remain unpaid. The companies must conduct the initial check after the law takes effect January 1, 2017, and then twice a year going forward.
Important Announcement About Telephone Scam
We’ve recently been given information about a new type of scam directed at both lawyers and their clients. We’re sending this update because the scam is directly linking attorneys and their clients.
Here’s how the scam works:
* The client receives a phone call.
* The caller ID shows the number belongs to the attorney.
* The client is told that they need to pay additional money.
* The client is then given a toll-free number to call.
* When the client calls, they are directed as to how to pay the money.
The scam works through a process called “Caller ID Spoofing.” “Spoofing” allows a caller to create a new caller ID for their phone. Previous “spoofing” scams, for example, have involved callers using a number that belongs to the IRS.
What makes this especially troubling is that the scammers have linked the attorney with the client. While this information may be publicly available through court documents, we have not seen it used in this way. A recent case involved a bankruptcy court and the client was told they needed to pay more money to a creditor. Fortunately, the scam was caught in time and no money was lost.
Attorneys should consider advising clients about the potential for this type of scam and to make sure they double check before any additional money is sent. If this happens to you and your client, please file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center athttp://www.ic3.gov.
To view this information from our website select the following link: Court Announcement
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Many people have never had a Will or Trust drafted for them by an attorney. Maybe they don’t want to discuss personal details, they feel as if they aren’t ready to make such important decisions, or maybe they are unaware of the consequences of not having a Will. It’s common for 20-somethings to feel as though it’s just not important to have a Will right now. However, every age group can benefit from having a Will.
What people may not realize is that the State of Illinois has already written some estate planning documents for them. Those State-written documents provide for who will be the guardian of any minor children or disabled adult children you leave behind. They provide who in your family can make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions. They provide who will receive your hard-earned money and property after your death.
The good news is that you have the power to undo those documents, which are really state laws intended to fill in the gaps if you do not have a Will or a Trust or if those are somehow defective. You can have an attorney write a Will or Trust that will reflect your wishes as to the division of your property. You can also state who you want to care for your children after you are gone. More importantly, you can say who should not be allowed to care for your children after your death. Of course, a judge will make a determination as to the best interest of your children, but your wishes would be of great value and influence. An attorney could also prepare a power of attorney for healthcare where you get to decide who will make your healthcare decisions when you cannot, and you decide the standards by which that named person makes those decisions. You get to decide and describe in that power of attorney document whether or not you want to be kept alive by artificial means if your chances for recovery appear hopeless.
You have the right to specify, in another type of power of attorney, what type of mental health services you would want or not want if such became necessary. For instance, you might wish to specify that you not receive electro shock therapy.
You can also make a power of attorney for property and name an individual you know to be worthy of your trust to take care of and make decisions regarding your finances if your mental capacity greatly declines. Without such a document, a court of law may decide who should make financial decisions for you. Similar documents can help decide who can make personal decisions for you when you cannot.
The choice is, of course, left to the individual. However, please know that you have options. Explore them, so that you can make informed decisions that will have a great impact on you and yours later in life.
A Power of Attorney For Healthcare tells the doctor who should make medical decisions in the event you are unable to do that yourself. The problem is that there could be a gap between your medical emergency and the healthcare provider’s ability to contact your POA. What if your POA isn’t around or reachable when you stop breathing or in that moment of a heart attack when a decision has to be made? What then? A delay in treatment can make a big difference in how you spend the balance of your days on earth.
That’s why in addition to your POAs (and your will), you need to take one more step to make sure your wishes are followed in the event of a medical emergency. You need an “Advance Directive,” also called a POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment). The Illinois POLST is designed to help a person with an advanced illness and his or her physician craft a plan of action in the event of an emergency. The Illinois POLST identifies a person’s healthcare wishes prior to a life-threatening emergency and acts as a physician order. It protects a person’s wishes in all settings (i.e. hospital, home, nursing home.) By Illinois law, healthcare providers must do what your POLST says.
Having a prepared and signed POLST puts you in charge of the kind of treatment you want and fills the gap between your ability to verbally express your will to a medical provider and the moment when it becomes necessary for your POA for Healthcare to take over.