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Practice News

Divorcing clients have a range of estate planning needs, but some issues arise for nearly everyone whose marriage is ending, notes Chicago lawyer and ISBA member Lauren Evans DeJong. So be prepared to counsel your divorcing client about the following five estate-planning tasks.

Changing beneficiary designations. These include removing the soon-to-be ex as beneficiary "of [the client's] life insurance policies, individual retirement accounts, land trusts, and annuities," DeJong writes. Also review "transfer on death or payable on death bank or brokerage accounts, land conveyed by transfer on death deeds, and employee benefits."

Controlling access to online accounts. The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, 755 ILCS 70/1 et seq., which took effect last year, "provides a priority system for individuals to specifically control disclosure of digital assets and content of electronic communications" on social media, email, and the like.

"Many clients will not want their…ex to have access to their e-mails, Facebook or Instagram accounts, financial or banking information, diaries, or other personal information," DeJong writes.

"Individuals can use online tools established by providers [e.g., Google's Inactive Account Manager and Facebook's Legacy Contact] to direct disclosure of digital assets," she writes. "[A]n online tool…takes precedence over any other method of directing disclosure." Another option is to draft a statement directing disclosure, which can be included in a client's will, trust, or POA.

The State of Illinois seeks a public service administrator at the Northern Receiving Correctional Center in Crest Hill to plan, organize, direct, and evaluate the operations of the Preliminary Hearing Program Unit; serve as supervising hearing officer, traveling statewide to attend and/or conduct preliminary and complex hearings; provide technical assistance to the chief legal counsel; serve as a resource to government officials; provide legal opinions, interpretations, and advice; and serve as a full line supervisor.

To be eligible for this position, the applicant must be a graduate of a recognized law school. Requires prior experience equivalent to three years of progressively responsible administrative experience in a public or private legal organization, preferably in the areas of criminal justice or administrative law. Requires the ability to successfully apply learned knowledge and techniques to working environment. Requires working of the agency's program operations and policies. Requires the possession of a license to practice law in Illinois. Applicants must be in, and maintain, good standing with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

The application deadline is 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday, October 11. 

Kerry Bryson of the Office of the State Appellate Defender reviews the Illinois Supreme Court ruling in the criminal case People v. Bailey.

People v. Bailey

In 2005, Dennis Bailey was convicted of residential burglary and disarming a peace officer. Following an unsuccessful direct appeal and post-conviction petition, Bailey sought leave to file a successive post-conviction petition. The State filed a written objection, and Bailey field a written response.

The court held a hearing on the motion for leave to file; Bailey was not present and was not represented by counsel. At that hearing, the prosecutor argued that the pleadings did not satisfy the cause-and-prejudice test for filing a successive petition. The court acknowledged Bailey’s written response and denied leave to file.

Bailey challenged the State’s participation at the motion-for-leave-to-file stage of the proceedings, noting that the Post-Conviction Hearing Act does not expressly allow the State to file a responsive pleading or provide input on the court’s decision. The State argued that the Act is considered civil in nature, and parties are generally permitted to respond to motions for leave to file.

Alen Takhsh of Takhsh Law, P.C. discusses the implications of traveling abroad for Green Card holders.

Asked and Answered


By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am a partner in a four-attorney plaintiff-side personal injury firm in Illinois. Three of us are partners and we have one associate attorney. We handle run of the mill slip and fall, vehicle, and premises accidents; products liability cases; and workers’ compensation cases. We have a very aggressive advertising and marketing program. We are having issues with reduced case flow and dwindling and diminishing profits and earnings. For the past year the partners have been living off our credit line. We believe that we need to be thinking about doing something different and are not sure as to what that should be. However, we have agreed to start doing some long-term planning. We would appreciate your thoughts.


Most home purchases, unless they are cash deals, involve a mortgage loan. Since the real estate market crashed in 2008, a lesser-used path towards home ownership has been on the rise - owner financing. Also known as an installment contract, owner financing allows a buyer to live in a home while paying the seller the purchase price over time.

However, the practice is ripe for abuse because the purchaser doesn't actually own the home until the balance is paid in full. That means the Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law - and its protections for homeowners - doesn't apply in the event of a default. A simple eviction action is all it takes to divest the would-be purchaser of what may be a significant financial investment. On August 25, 2017, Governor Rauner approved Public Act 100-0416, also known as the Installment Sales Contract Act, which is designed to provide protection for purchasers.

According to a March 2017 report by The Chicago Reader (http://bit.ly/2ulgc2X), installment sales contracts are seeing a resurgence in Cook County, particularly in poorer communities that were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. According to the Reader, Illinois law doesn't require that these contracts be recorded or otherwise registered with the state, which makes it difficult to know just how many exist.


With the recent devastation that has occurred from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is hiring temporary employees to assist with disaster relief efforts through December 31, 2017. SBA has 30-, 60-, and 90-day assignments available, and has lawyer, paralegal, and legal assistant positions to fill. If you are interested in helping hurricane victims, visit the SBA website for the full list of job openings and qualifications.


It may come as a surprise to more than a few lawyers, but as of July 1, 2017, faxing documents is no longer a proper method for serving them. What's more, attorneys must include an email address at which they can be served with documents on their appearances and pleadings.

Why? Because the Illinois Supreme Court revised Illinois Supreme Court Rule 11 to mandate email service of documents filed with the court. It also eliminates facsimile service entirely. The changes were announced June 22.

The effective date of the rule amendments coincides with the day the supreme and appellate court were required to switch to the new e-filing system (circuit courts make the switch on January 1). The supreme court has made its intention clear - modernizing Illinois' court system is a priority.

According to new Rule 11(c), documents must be served via email unless certain exceptions apply. Documents may be attached to the email, or the serving party can include a link in the body of the email that will allow the recipient to download documents from a reliable service provider. If an email is rejected or otherwise returned as undelivered, the emailing party is responsible for ensuring that the document is actually delivered.


Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am an associate attorney in a 10-attorney firm in Atlanta. The firm represents mid-size to small businesses. There are six partners and four associates in the firm. I joined the firm after graduating from law school two years ago. All of my work is given to me by the partners and since joining the firm, I have not brought in any clients. When I joined the firm, I was told not to worry about bringing in clients – the firm has plenty of work. I am paid a salary and a bonus if my billable hours are at a certain level. There appears to be no desire by the partners for me to spend time developing clients. I have talked with my peers in other law firms who tell me that this is short-sighted, and that developing clients is a major factor in their firms for associates to be considered for partnership. I would appreciate your thoughts on what I should be doing and what direction I should take.

The Illinois Supreme Court announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on September 22, 2017. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • James M. Allen, Dixon

Mr. Allen, who was licensed in 1967, was disbarred on consent. He was arrested in December of 2015 after causing an automobile collision on his way home from a bar. The driver of the other vehicle sustained permanent injuries as a result of the collision. Mr. Allen subsequently pled guilty to one count of aggravated DUI and was sentenced to 24 months of probation. Mr. Allen was the subject of two prior disciplinary proceedings, once of which arose from another aggravated DUI conviction.