Essential Items to Include in a Will

Essential Items to Include in a Will

Wills are legal documents that outline what happens to all your possessions in the event of your death. Not having a will means those decisions are made by a court. A will ensures you can determine who gets an inheritance as well as who will be the executor of your estate.

State laws may set out requirements for the will which need to be followed. This is why having an experienced attorney help you create one is important. Below are some of the items you should include.

Personal Information

Basic information about yourself must be in the will. This includes your entire name, address, and birthdate. If you go by other aliases, include those too. It’s also useful to name your spouse and family members as well as what relationship you have with each of them.


Testamentary intent must be written in special legal language to state the will is what it is. Something like “This is my last will and testament” can be used but another verbiage is also fine as long as it shows that you intend to pass on the property after death. This sentence of intent is required for a will to be valid.

Beneficiaries and Assets

A large portion of the will is related to what assets are to be directed to who. Real estate, high-value assets, money, and belongings can all be included. The people receiving those things, beneficiaries, can be friends, family members, trusts, businesses, or charities.

Other Information

A will can be used to appoint an executor. This person is who will carry out the requests stated in your will. If nobody is named, someone will need to apply to be a representative or the court will choose someone.

For those with minor children, a guardian can be named for them if you and the other parent are both deceased. Guardians can also be named in some instances for others who are dependents, like senior parents or adult children with disabilities.

Beyond that, the will needs to have your signature and that of two witnesses. Adding a notarized self-proving affidavit is also useful when allowed by the state.

Since wills are legal documents, a lawyer from Bell & Shah should help you ensure yours meets all requirements. When you speak with our attorneys, make sure you bring up the items above and ensure they make it into the final will. This is the best way to ensure things go where you want them to in the event you die.

The Importance of an Attorney When Drafting Contracts

The Importance of an Attorney When Drafting Contracts

Some individuals avoid working with attorneys for contracts even though that might not be the best choice. Without an attorney, contracts may not be enforceable. The wrong phrasing, incomplete information, or a lack of important terms can make a contract worth no more than the paper it is printed on.

Below are several reasons an attorney should help with drafting your contracts.

Easier Court Enforcement

The point of a contract is being able to enforce it in court if needed. However, when you choose a generic contract or write one on your own, that may not be enough. Oral agreements are especially hard to enforce and may not even be valid depending on the situation.

An attorney can ensure all the key terms are included to make the document enforceable. Form contracts may or may not include this and sometimes are not created to meet the requirements of the state you live in.

Assurance of a Complete Contract

If you want to avoid expensive disputes and risks, an attorney should be involved in drafting your contracts. Experienced attorneys are aware of what needs to be in a contract and can explain what requirements you have and what issues might come up in the future.

Whether the attorney reviews or writes the document, it will detail what happens if someone doesn’t hold up their end of a deal. They can also make allowances for situations beyond your control. Standard clauses will be included to avoid the potential for disputes. A good contract may be long and complex, but it is put in place to protect you.

Better Contract Terms

When an attorney writes a contract for you, they are going to favor you in the terms. A lawyer with experience will know what typical terms are. They can provide insight on terms that push things in your favor, which may save you money down the road.

If someone else is creating the contract, expect them to do the same thing. That’s why your lawyer should review the contract and advise you of changes to reasonable terms. In addition, they can assist with a negotiation strategy when needed.

Having good legal advice about contracts is essential for those with a business of any size. Making sure your contract is fully legal and enforceable can avoid issues in the future. The right attorney can help you create the best terms, ensure the document is complete, and be sure it will be enforced in court. If you have any further questions, contact the experienced lawyers at Bell & Shah.

What to Consider Before Owning a Business with a Spouse

What to Consider Before Owning a Business with a Spouse

There are several things a successful marriage has in common with a successful business. Both take a lot of hard work paired with a commitment. Operating a business as a couple can have some challenges, but it can also be a great option in the right situation. If you can balance your personal and work lives, it could make both more rewarding.

Choosing the Right Business Entity

There are tons of family-owned businesses across the United States. About one and a half million businesses in the nation are run by married couples. You may already know how your skillsets work together, which can play into the right structure for a business.

If both people are going to be owners and take part in the management of the business, a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or a partnership are all solid choices. One person can take on more of the work if that’s what works best for you as business owners and a couple.

Tax Implications of Owning a Business

S corporations, LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietorships are all pass-through businesses. That means there is no corporate income tax. The profits pass through the owners to be taxed on an individual level. For joint-owned businesses, each of you pays your share on your normal tax return.

If one of you owns the business and the other works there, the owner handles the business taxes while the other pays income taxes on their salary. Co-owned businesses are considered partnerships unless they are a corporation. However, married couples with a joint business can file the taxes on separate forms.

Business Contracts

It’s important to have a contract in place even with a business between spouses. While you may trust the other person, you never know what may occur in the future. Having everything in writing protects each person moving forward. You should have an agreement that explains the management structure, process for adding new members, ownership percentage, indemnification, and process for leaving or ending the business.

In situations where one person is the owner and the other an employee, a contract should be in place about pay and benefits, job duties, dispute resolution processes, and other employment terms.

The initial stages of opening a business with a partner can be uncomfortable as you are treating a spouse as a business partner. However, the right written rules are put in place to show that each of you is serious about the business. Contact the lawyers at Bell & Shah to assist with the contracts to make sure everyone is on the same page.

When Should You Update Your Estate Plan?

When Should You Update Your Estate Plan?

Individuals who already have an estate plan are off to a good start. If you don’t, it might be time to have one drawn up so you have a plan. Even if you have already worked with an attorney to create an estate plan, some life events necessitate making changes to it. It’s recommended to update it every three to five years or when one of the situations below occurs.


After marriage, you’ll want to add your spouse as a beneficiary. However, you may also want to add them to other roles. Some of these include designating them as the trustee of any trusts you create, a healthcare agent to make your healthcare decisions, a financial agent if you are unable to do that on your own, and an executor. Updating the plan will prevent problems (and even lawsuits) in the future.

Birth or Adoption

Having or adopting a child is a major change in life. Naming them in your estate ensures your legacy is upheld. There are many things to address with a child. You may wish to select a guardian in case both parents die. You should also think about when to pass assets to your child. Think about whether assets should go to a spouse or you want to make assets go to a child. Take time to consider all these things and speak with an attorney for anything you might have missed.


A divorce can be stressful and complicated. One of the things you want to do following a divorce is to update your estate plan. If you made changes when getting married, undoing those is likely to be needed. Those who have divorced and remarried should make it a priority to update the plan.


Retirement is a major life change. While you might plan for it for decades, some don’t consider updating their estate plan when it occurs. Finances often change drastically at this time and you want to be sure your plan matches up with your new reality. Most who retire have kids who are older now so you may want to change some provisions and offer an inheritance to grandchildren.

Reach out to the experienced law office of Bell & Shah to learn more about estate plans and having one drawn up. If you haven’t updated yours in several years, now is likely a good time to do that as well. Make sure everything is in place for the future no matter what happens!

How Can an Attorney Help with Independent Contractor Agreements?

How Can an Attorney Help with Independent Contractor Agreements?

A lot of businesses today make use of independent contractors for various types of projects instead of bringing on employees to work full-time or part-time. This is beneficial for companies because it means they don’t have to bring aboard a new employee for a project that might be short-term. It allows for more flexibility and freedom, which is why a lot of businesses use this option.

However, even though they are not employees, there still needs to be an independent contractor agreement written up. Without one of these agreements, it could mean a lot of problems down the line.

Get an Attorney to Draft or Look Over the Agreement

Independent contractor agreements are legal documents that help to define the relationship between the contractor and the person/company that hires them. The agreement will also include the terms and the expectations for the project, and it ensures that the contractor’s status is legally protected. The agreement is a contract between the contractor and the client.

As such, it needs to be carefully created and detailed. While it is possible to find some standard template contracts, these are not typically recommended. There is a good chance that they won’t contain everything that’s needed and making changes to them could cause a host of other problems. Your needs and requirements are unique whether you are a contractor, or you are hiring one. You need to be sure the contract accommodates both of you.

The best course of action is to work with an attorney. They can create the contract and make sure everything is written correctly and will be binding in case any issues arise.

An Attorney Can Provide Representation If Needed

One of the other ways that an attorney can help when it comes to matters of independent contractor agreements is through representation. Hopefully, you have a quality agreement in the first place and there’s no reason that you would have to go through litigation because of disagreements or confusion over the contract. However, if you do end up in court, it’s always a good idea to have an attorney who can represent you.

Find a Great Attorney Today

You will find that whether you are an independent contractor or you are operating a business that hires them, having an attorney from Bell & Shah can ensure that everyone’s rights are protected and that they are being treated fairly. it’s important that you consult with a knowledgeable Illinois licensing attorney at Bell & Shaw Law, LLC to help address your concerns.

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