All posts by Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC

SINGLE? YOU NEED A PLAN!

If you have never been married, or are divorced or widowed, you need to consider the following:

  • What will happen to you if you are in an accident or become ill and cannot make your own health care decisions?
  • Who will be able to pay your bills for you and take care of your insurance, 401k/IRA accounts, cell phone bill, and other financial matters for you if you are ever unable to do these things for yourself?
  • Where will your assets go upon your death?

If you have a close friend or significant other who would be “your person” for these things, you must state your wishes in legally enforceable documents, including a Will, Revocable Living Trust, and Powers of Attorney for Health Care and Property.  If you have not executed these documents, or if they are prepared and executed in a way that does not meet the statutory legal requirements, your immediate family (i.e., your parents and/or your siblings) will have legal standing under Illinois law to make decisions for you and inherit your assets.  If you wish to leave anything to friends, more distant or younger family members (e.g., nieces or nephews), or charities, you need to do so in a Will or Revocable Living Trust, or with carefully thought-out beneficiary designations.

If you have ever been married, and had previously done some planning with your spouse, you will need to review and update any documents (e.g., Will, Revocable Living Trust, Powers of Attorney, HIPAA Authorizations) and your beneficiary designations to remove your former or late spouse from them.

The experienced estate planning attorneys at Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC can sit down with you and discuss your personal situation, your concerns and wishes, and help you come up with a plan that will work for you.

Should you have any questions about an estate plan or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT: NO ACTUAL HARM NEEDED TO SUE UNDER THE BIOMETRICS INFORMATION PRIVACY ACT

On January 25, 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp, et al., 2019 IL 123186 (Ill. Jan. 25, 2019). The Court concluded that a private cause of action is available under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, 740 ILCS § 14/1 et seq. (BIPA), without allegations of additional, actual harm beyond violations of the procedural requirements set forth in the statute. This new ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court could trigger expensive class action lawsuits and private litigation against businesses, even where plaintiffs do not allege actual injury. The case demands attention, not only for Illinois companies that use biometric information, but for companies generally.

What is this case about?

In Rosenbach, the plaintiff alleged that an amusement park violated BIPA because it used her son’s fingerprints to issue a season pass without first obtaining written consent or otherwise complying with BIPA’s notification procedures. The plaintiff alleged no actual harm beyond the violation of BIPA’s requirements. On certification from the trial court, the Second District Appellate Court held that in order to bring an action under BIPA’s “aggrieved person” private right of action, a plaintiff must allege an “injury or adverse effect” beyond noncompliance with the statute.

The Illinois Supreme Court disagreed, concluding that the term “aggrieved” does not contemplate actual harm or injury beyond violation of the rights provided under BIPA. The Court held that a plaintiff can seek both monetary damages and injunctive relief regardless of whether a defendant’s alleged non-compliance with BIPA resulted in actual harm or injury.

What is Biometrics Information Privacy Act (BIPA)?

When BIPA took effect in 2008, Illinois became the first state to enact a biometric privacy law regulating the collection, use, and storage of “biometric identifiers,” such as fingerprints, voiceprints, iris or retina scans and scans of hand or face geometry, as well as other “biometric information” based on those identifiers to the extent used to identify an individual (collectively, “biometric data”). Although three other states have since passed similar laws, BIPA remains the only one that grants individuals a private right of action—the right to sue and seek damages or injunctive relief for statutory violations.

The BIPA set forth a comprehensive set of rules for companies collecting biometric data of state residents. The BIPA has 5 key features:

  1. Requires informed consent prior to collection
  2. Permits a limited right to disclosure
  3. Mandates protection obligations and retention guidelines
  4. Prohibits profiting from biometric data
  5. Creates a private right of action for individuals harmed by BIPA violations. Statutory damages can reach $1,000 for each negligent violation, and $5,000 for each intentional or reckless violation.

How are Biometrics used in business?

The use of biometrics in the business world has become widespread, and the types of usage are constantly evolving. With new technological developments and the technology itself becoming more readily available, industries of all sizes and kinds are discovering the benefits of biometrics. Common uses include:

  • Time Management – Businesses across all industries have found that biometric time clocks – devised that facilitate clocking in and out with a fingerprint or other biometric, rather than an I.D. card or pin code, is cost effective, eliminates time theft, and ensures more accurate compliance with attendance policies.
  • Security Access – One of the original and most common forms of biometric use, typically through fingerprint reader, hand geometry scanners, and facial recognition, businesses use this technology to secure laptops, keyboard/mice, USB and portable storage devices, as well as for more general physical security (access to buildings and spaces within). Iris and retina scanners are more expensive, and generally only justify use in locations that require a high security clearance.
  • Safety – As regulations and internal policies are added to increase employee safety, biometrics allows employers to complete a profile for each employee – a “one-stop shop” for keeping up-to-date with training, certification, use of company information, and issuing credentials.
  • Health Plans – Biometrics assists health plans in establishing effective wellness programs. Biometric screening of an enrolled population allows data to be aggregated providing a complete risk profile for each individual. Some plans also measure biometric data of individuals to assess their health risks and provide incentives for changing behaviors that could lower those risks.

What should Companies do?

The Rosenbach decision now makes it easier for plaintiffs to bring claims without asserting actual damages. In other words, plaintiffs do not need to make one of the essential allegations of any lawsuit claiming money damages – that they have been harmed in fact. The decision of this case will bring proliferation of lawsuits, already numbering approximately 200, filed in Illinois state and federal courts alleging BIPA violations.

To avoid exposure to lawsuits under BIPA, any entity with Illinois employees or that operates in Illinois and collects, stores or uses biometric identifiers or information, whether that of its employees or its customers, guests, visitors, must ensure that they adopt and implement written policies and procedures regarding their collection, retention, disclosure and destruction of this data to ensure that they are sufficient to comply with the strict standards and requirements of BIPA. However, having these policies by themselves is not enough. It is essential that entities, especially in an employer/employee context, provide notice to individuals that their biometric information is being collected, stored, and/or used. For employers, this can be part of the onboarding process, where a signed affirmation of receipt of the notice can be made a condition of employment. Doing so will help secure a strong defense to any claim that an employee lacked adequate BIPA notice. Developing policies and procedures that place individuals on notice of an entity’s collection/storage and use of biometric information is especially critical in light of the Rosenbach decision.

Should you have any questions about the BIPA or any other laws that may affect your company, or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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PROTECT YOUR SEPARATE PROPERTY FROM DIVORCE BY TRACKING IT

pBoatFromAbove_10179931_sSome couples in Illinois choose to sign an agreement before marriage to ensure that the spouses each maintain ownership of their own property should the relationship end in divorce or death. While these prenuptial agreements can certainly be helpful, they are not the only way that separate property can be protected from divorce. Other methods can be just as effective and may help Divorce lawyers Chicago determine what property should be counted as separate property

Create an accounting system

In Illinois, any property acquired prior to a marriage or received as a gift or inheritance during a marriage is considered separate property, but can become marital property if used to support the marital estate.   Keeping complete and thorough records of separate property is essential for those who want to avoid the commingling of assets. There are many computerize accounting systems that can be useful in tracking separate accounts, assets and any income derived from those accounts.

Maintain a balance sheet

Without a prenuptial agreement, separate property can be inventoried, valued and placed on a balance sheet at the beginning of a marriage. Divorce lawyers in Chicago may be able to recommend a CPA or other business expert to assist with the valuation of assets. If needed for certain assets, such as real estate, jewelry or valuable collections, up-to-date appraisals can be maintained on the balance sheet as well.

Keep bank accounts separate

Separate bank accounts are necessary to keep separate property separate from the marital estate, since shared bank accounts are subject to property division under state law. Any income from marital property should not be deposited into a couple’s separate property accounts, because doing so can change the character of the separate property to marital. Marital accounts should be used to pay for family expenses, including down payments, while separate property investments should only be paid from separate accounts.

Maintain a general ledger

A month-to-month or annual summary of activity of an account is called a general ledger, which can be another good way to keep thorough records. Maintaining a general ledger of each separate and marital account can be a good way to make sure that commingling is not going on unnoticed. It can be much easier to track the movement of funds when there is written evidence of where income is coming from and where it is going.

Divorce lawyers in Chicago may be a helpful resource for individuals who want to maintain separate property after they marry. Speaking with an attorney might clear up common misconceptions about the correct treatment of separate and marital assets.

Should you have any questions about family law or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

LAUGH AND GET RICH WITH $100 – $125 SAVINGS AT WPD

February 8, 2019 is Laugh and Get Rich Day.  At Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC we know that laughter is often the best medicine, but we did not know it could make you rich!  To celebrate this fabulous day, the Estate Planning Team at WPD is looking to face the sad subject of death and disability planning with an offer we hope will have you laughing all the way to the bank.  Book an estate planning appointment in the next week, mentioning that you read about Laugh and Get Rich Day, and we will reduce $100 off of your estate planning fee.  Tell our receptionist a joke that makes her laugh out loud, and we will make that discount $125.  Hurry, this offer expires February 17, 2019. Have a great Laugh and Get Rich Day!

 

4 SIGNS YOUR EX MAY BE HIDING MARITAL PROPERTY

pFeetWithYellowLine_shutterstock_170150738In Illinois, state law requires divorcing couples to declare all of their assets in order for the court to divide their shared property. However, an Illinois divorce attorney knows that some spouses choose to hide the property that they do not want to give up rather than split it with their ex. Often, the legal ramifications that can result from hiding assets, like fines or jail time, are not enough to dissuade spouses from lying.

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