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As the tumultuous opening weeks of the new Donald Trump Presidency unfold, the pre-election histrionics have not abated, and everyone cautiously watches to see what’s next. Regardless of your politics, there is no denying that these are interesting times.

Meanwhile, in the GSRNH Estate Planning group, we’ve been following the trade winds to understand what the political sea change might have in store for estate and financial planning.  The President made broad promises during his campaign which, if implemented, will have a great impact on our corner of the office.
Written by: William J. Cotter


The Cat’s Meow: Estate Planning for Pets

For 2016, it is estimated that pet owners in the United States will spend $62.75 billion dollars on their pets. This number has nearly doubled over the past ten years. With an ever growing supply of grain-free and organic pet foods and treats, pet “health insurance,” and daycare for furry friends complete with webcams, more families are treating their animals with the same level of care as human family members.
Written by: Michelle V. Hanlon



The United States Treasury (IRS) recently issued Proposed Regulations that could have a dramatic impact on your estate plan. In their current form, these Proposed Regulations would essentially eliminate discounts for minority control and a lack of marketability in transfer tax valuations of interests in closely held entities (e.g., family limited partnerships, closely held corporations, and other family controlled entities). Many observers see the proposed rules as the end, or near end, of discounted values for business interests transferred between family members. For individuals looking to minimize their future estate tax, this is a critical development.

Written by: Michelle V. Hanlon, Howard M. Hoff, and William J. Cotter



When working with clients to develop thorough and appropriate estate planning strategies, many issues need to be addressed:  guardians for minor children; minimizing or eliminating future tax liabilities; caring for elderly parents; designing structures for the education and support of minor children; confirming the appropriate beneficiary designations; assuring that advanced medical directives are in place; and many more.

One element of our financial/legal discussions with clients that has become increasingly important is the ability of our clients to protect themselves, and their children, from the claims of creditors.  This discussion of “asset protection” has risen up the menu of estate planning topics, and often takes precedence over many others.

Written by: William J. Cotter



“New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that in terms of domestic migration — people moving about within the United States — Illinois saw roughly 105,200 more people leave than arrive.”   Illinois Policy Institute, December 23, 2015

“…Illinois struggles to keep people here. They’re leaving, in droves, for states with sunnier economic opportunities.”  Chicago Tribune, January 6, 2016

“By almost every metric, Illinois’ population is sharply declining because residents are fleeing the State.”  Chicago Tribune, March 25, 2016

“Millionaires are leaving Chicago more than any other city in the United States on a net basis, according to a new report.”   Chicago Tribune, April 4, 2016


This could be a piece on the demographic impact of cross-state migration . . . or of Illinois’s abject failure to address systemic economic problems . . . or the impact of personal wealth on economic mobility.  These are all juicy issues, and worthy of debate.  But instead of focusing on the causes or fixes to these problem issues, we’re going to look at one migration decision point – taxes.

Written by: William J. Cotter


A Time to Be GRATful

This article will explore the implementation of a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (“GRAT”), in general, and provide specific examples of the estate and gift tax treatment of the transfer of assets to a GRAT. GRATs are a well-established estate planning strategy used to reduce the size of a client’s taxable estate.
Written by: William J. Cotter and Michelle V. Hanlon


Mr. Cub - and Influence Undue?

In the days following the passing of Ernie Banks this past January, one of the most oft-heard tributes was that he was a true “ambassador” for the game of baseball.  Dubbed both “Mr. Cub” and “Mr. Sunshine,” Ernie’s broad smile was frequently flashed at The Friendly Confines as he tirelessly supported the Cubs and exhorted the fans, “It’s a beautiful day . . . let’s play two!”  So beloved was ol’ No. 14 that since 2008 his bronzed statue has graced Wrigley Field in a loving tribute to the man and his legacy.
Written by: Willam J. Cotter


Illinois Pregnancy Discrimination Law

Beginning January 1, 2015, the Illinois Human Rights Act (“Act”) now prohibits pregnancy discrimination.  Private employers (i) having 15 of more employees within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks within the calendar year of or preceding the alleged violation, and (ii) any person employing one or more employees when a complainant alleges pregnancy discrimination will be covered by the new law.
Written by: Brian M. Dougherty


Murder Most Foul . . . Visiting the “Slayer Statute” in Illinois

This article visits three cases with a common denominator:  murder.  We all have an intuitive and visceral understanding that if you kill someone from whom you may inherit, you ought not inherit (the “unworthy heir” concept).  This common sense notion has found a home in most State statutes, and these statutes have an ominous-sounding name: “slayer statutes.”   It will come as no surprise that sometimes these common sense statutes need a little fleshing out. . .

Dougherty v. Cole

Jack Jason Cole, Jr. heard voices.  He would later be diagnosed as suffering manic episodes “with psychotic features,” but in 2008 the voices told Jack that his mother was an enemy.  He took the advice of the voices and beat and stabbed his mother to death.  At his criminal trial, Jack was found not guilty of first degree murder by reason of insanity.
Written by: William J. Cotter


Piercing The Corporate Veil

When clients contact us about forming a new business entity – a new corporation, for example -- a common theme is their desire to “limit their liability.”  They nod knowingly, confident in the Kevlar protection their shiny new corporation will afford.  We often need to have a little heart-to-heart about the behaviors that business owners need to embrace on an on-going basis for that Kevlar to work its magic. 

This article will focus on some of this advice, and highlight an Illinois case that provides wonderful instruction on how to ignore all the right behaviors.   But before delving into the TLD Builders case, let’s set the table with some background.  This discussion will focus on corporations, but with a little spit polish it would apply equally to limited liability companies and limited partnerships.
Written by: William J. Cotter

Practice Areas

We are uniquely staffed to handle most types of legal matters—whether personal or business related—within our main practice areas: business and corporate law; construction law; employment and labor law; estate and tax planning; family law; land use and development/local government; litigation; and real estate law.
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There are no shortcuts or compromises at Goldstine, Skrodzki, Russian, Nemec and Hoff, Ltd. Our attorneys respectfully listen to their clients, anticipate their needs and work diligently to provide sound and practical legal advice.
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Introducing our new partners: Alison J. Wetzel, Brian M. Dougherty, and Daniel J. McCarthy III.


Our attorneys represent a vast array of clients, from individuals to closely-held businesses and publicly-traded companies to municipalities.
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In Memoriam: Thomas P. Russian


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