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Elgin business formation attorney LLCFor anyone who has suffered a personal injury, coping with the effects that it will have on their life can be incredibly difficult. This is especially true if the injury results in disability that affects a victim’s ability to work and earn an income. While it may be possible to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, many people also rely on public benefits such as Social Security income (SSI) or Social Security disability income (SSDI). However, some recent changes to the rules followed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) may affect a person’s ability to receive Social Security disability benefits.

Updated regulations which went into effect in March of 2017 have changed some of the processes followed by the SSA in Social Security disability appeals hearings. These changes include:

Opinions of Treating Physicians

In a Social Security disability appeals hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is no longer required to give more weight to the opinion of the doctor who originally treated the claimant. Instead, an ALJ will consider the following factors:

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Elgin special needs trust lawyersOver the course of your life, you are likely to save money and acquire assets, and you will probably want to use these resources to provide for the needs of your loved ones. This is particularly true if you have any family members who are disabled or have special needs, since you will want to do everything you can to ensure that they will always be taken care of. However, simply gifting funds to a person or naming them as a beneficiary in your will can actually have some negative effects. To ensure that a beneficiary will continue to have the resources they need, you should consider passing your assets to them through a special needs trust. In some cases, you may also want to use this type of trust to provide for your own needs, especially as you reach an advanced age.

Public Benefits and Special Needs Trusts

A person with a disability will often be eligible to receive certain types of public aid, such as Medicare, Medicaid, public housing, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, this type of aid is only available if a person meets certain requirements. Typically, the total value of the assets they own must fall below a certain threshold, and they will be limited to a certain amount of income earned per month. If a person who receives any of these benefits is named as the beneficiary of significant assets, this could make them ineligible for one or more types of public benefits.

To ensure that a beneficiary will continue to be able to receive public aid, a special needs trust or supplemental needs trust can be created. The assets in this type of trust will be in the control of a trustee, so they will not be considered part of the total assets owned by the person with special needs. The beneficiary can then receive regular payments from the trust that will be used to provide for needs that are not covered by public benefits. Since public aid is intended to pay for a person’s daily needs, including food, housing, and clothing, payments from the trust can be used for other purposes, such as transportation, furniture and household items, education, entertainment, and cell phone or internet service.

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Kane County cohabitation agreement attorneyThese days, more and more unmarried couples choose to live together instead of or before getting married. Consequently, they often buy property such as a house or a car together. However, unmarried couples do not fall under the same property division laws as married couples in Illinois. In order to protect both parties’ interests and assets in case of a breakup or death, it is important to have a formal agreement in place before buying property together. Often known as a cohabitation agreement, this type of arrangement is similar to a prenuptial agreement. When creating this type of agreement, an experienced family law attorney can ensure that all legal issues are addressed correctly.  

If a couple is not married, it can be easier to break up and “go their own way,” since they do not have to go through the legal proceedings involved with a divorce. However, the question of who gets what property in the separation can be a difficult and sometimes contentious decision. If only one name is on the mortgage or car loan, that person is solely responsible for the financial obligations that come with those types of loans, and they will typically remain the sole owner of that property, even if both parties participate in making loan payments. If two names are on a loan or title, both people are held accountable, and the couple may also need to decide between themselves how ownership will be handled when dividing any assets or property.

Tips for a Cohabitation Agreement

A cohabitation property agreement should describe the ways in which their property will be divided, such as by one person buying out the other’s share, as well as the process used to resolve any ownership disputes that may arise. The percentage of the property owned by each party can also be designated. These stipulations should be put in writing, since property might not all be divided equally, depending on how much money each person put in when buying the property.

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Kane County business tax deduction lawyer QBIOn Jan. 1, 2018, Section 199A was inserted into the Internal Revenue Service tax code as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As stated in the code, Sec. 199A says sole proprietors, business partnerships, S corporations, and many trusts and estates could be eligible for a qualified business income (QBI) deduction. This lets qualifying taxpayers deduct a maximum of 20 percent of their QBI, in addition to 20 percent of qualified publicly traded partnership (PTP) income and real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends.

When the new law was announced, uncertainty remained as to what kinds of businesses would qualify for the deduction and the scope of its limitations. In January of this year, the IRS issued Publication 535, in which Chapter 12 addresses the QBI deduction. 

Here are some of the key points that answered questions which had lingered since the introduction of Sec. 199A last year. For a full examination of how Sec. 199A affects your business and taxes, contact an experienced business law attorney

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Elgin business formation attorney LLCIn mid-2017, a 112-page bill from the Illinois General Assembly significantly altered the Illinois Limited Liability Company Act. Its purpose was to align Illinois law with the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act adhered to in most states. In addition to affecting the formation of future companies, the law also applied to LLCs already in existence. Changes that significantly impacted Illinois business entities and individuals starting a new company include:

Clarification of Procedures for Records Inspection and Copying

If an LLC member wishes to assess the business’ transactions and financial status, the company must provide the necessary records within 10 days of the request, unless it is understood the individual already knows the information contained therein. Disassociated members also maintain these rights, and any denial of access must be made in writing by the company.

Verbal and Inferred Agreements Now Accepted 

While this reverses the previous standard regarding oral and implied operating agreements, a written operating contract is still the preferred method. In some situations, a court may decide there is no proof of an oral agreement, but persons who neglected to draft a written agreement now have an avenue to assert their rights.

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Kane County family law and personal injury lawyerThe new year typically brings alterations to existing federal and state laws, and 2019 is no exception. This year’s updates include a change to federal tax laws that will significantly impact both parties involved in divorce, while one change to state laws adds a provision designed to reduce injuries in car accidents.

Spousal Support Tax Changes 

A substantial change in U.S. tax law that went into effect on January 1, 2019 spawned an increased push to finalize divorces before the new year. To help defray the cost of the 2017 tax reform bill, spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony in Illinois) is no longer tax-deductible for former spouses who make payments. Also, maintenance recipients will no longer claim those payments as taxable income. This change applies to couples who finalize their divorce after December 31, 2018.

The previous tax deduction law dated back to the 1940s. This change is expected to save the U.S. Treasury $6.7 billion, but it comes at a price. Many divorce attorneys say it will reduce the amount of money that can be split between former spouses, which is what sparked the run on divorces in the final weeks of 2018.

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Elgin tax planning lawyerThe federal government recently passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which has ushered in major changes to tax laws that will affect nearly every business and individual taxpayer. It is critical to understand these sweeping changes so that you can anticipate your tax burden each year.

According to the Tax Policy Center, under the TCJA, approximately 67% of taxpayers will owe less taxes, 25% will have no change in their taxes, and 7% percent will owe more taxes. However, this may not mean that taxpayers will receive a refund next April.

For most, whether a refund is issued depends on how much tax one pays through income withholding. Experts predict that because the government has reduced the withholding amounts to reflect the reduced taxes, between one third and one half of taxpayers may have a balance due with their next tax return.

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Kane County divorce lawyer taxes withholdingGoing from married to divorced radically changes one’s finances. Instead of splitting bills with a partner, you now have to pay expenses on a single income. In addition to this, your taxes will likely change in several ways. In most cases, you can anticipate how your taxes will be affected by divorce, allowing you to alter your tax strategy accordingly.

Updating Income Tax Withholding

One area of your taxes you should review is whether you are withholding the right amount of taxes from your paycheck. Typically, married taxpayers who file together are taxed at a lower rate, and they may be able to claim certain deductions to reduce their tax burden.

When someone is no longer married, his or her tax liability will likely go up. If you do not change the amount withheld from your paycheck, you could face a large tax bill when filing your next tax return.

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Elgin real estate attorneyThinking of investing in real estate? Investment deals can be complex, and those not familiar with real estate terminology or the banking industry can be taken advantage of. There are many scams surrounding real estate investing, and one type of scam that seems to be common in the Kane County area is the opportunity to join a real estate investment club.

Generally, this scam operates by asking that investors pool their money to buy properties that will be renovated or rented. Investors who may be priced out of investing in real estate on their own are promised large sums of money in return once the property has been sold.

To be fair, real estate investment clubs can be legitimate. However, some clubs make untrue and inaccurate representations about how the club is structured, what loans may be involved, and what the probable returns will be on these investments.

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How Recent Changes to State and Federal Law Affect Spousal Maintenance

Kane County alimony attorney Illinois spousal maintenance lawsFor many couples, spousal maintenance is an important issue to address during divorce. Alimony payments can help a lower-earning spouse maintain a standard of living similar to what they enjoyed while they were married, and they will also have a major impact on the finances of a higher-earning spouse. However, divorcing couples should be aware that there are significant changes in store for divorces which are finalized on or after January 1, 2019. On that date, both federal and state laws will be going into effect that will change the way courts award spousal maintenance and how alimony is treated for tax purposes.

Changes to Federal Law

At the federal level, alimony will no longer be tax deductible for the paying spouse. For the spouse receiving spousal maintenance, the new law does not require that spousal support be claimed as income. Experts generally agree that this will likely have the effect of smaller spousal maintenance payments, since more of the paying spouse’s income will go toward paying taxes.

Changes to Illinois Law

The state of Illinois has also changed its laws on spousal maintenance in two main respects. The first change to the law concerns how courts will decide if spousal support is appropriate at all between the spouses. Not every divorcing couple will qualify for spousal support. 

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Distracted Driving Can Cause Fatal Car Accidents

St. Charles distracted driving accident lawyerEveryone who uses the road has a duty to protect the safety of others. Unfortunately, many drivers neglect this duty and fail to drive as safely as possible. One of the most common ways that drivers endanger themselves and others is by not paying full attention to the road. Distracted driving can lead to car accidents that result in serious injuries and death, and those who are injured by a distracted driver should be sure to understand their options for pursuing compensation for their damages.

The Dangers Posed By Distracted Driving

Driving is such a commonplace activity that many people divide their attention between the road and a variety of other concerns. While multi-tasking may seem to be an effective strategy in many areas of one’s life, driving is not one of them. Drivers should keep their complete attention on the road, since even momentary distractions can have deadly results. In fact, more than 420,000 injuries and 3,100 fatalities occur in the United States every year as the result of distracted driving. 

Using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving is one of the most common types of distracted driving, yet it is also one of the most dangerous. Drivers who interact with their cell phones increase their crash risk by 360%. But even though the dangers of using cell phones while driving is well known, nearly one third of drivers aged 18 to 64 continue to send or read text messages while they are behind the wheel.

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Essential Elements to Include in Your Illinois Parenting Plan

St. Charles divorce lawyer parental responsibilityIf you are an Illinois parent going through a divorce, your divorce decree will include a parenting plan that specifies how parental responsibility (also known as decision making) and parenting time (also known as custody and visitation) will be allocated between you and your ex-spouse. 

This is an important document that will play a major part in determining how you will interact with your former spouse and your child for years to come. Therefore, it is critical to think through this document and to be as comprehensive as possible. It is also important to make the terms flexible. This plan must be able to grow with your family for years to come. 

The Importance of a Parenting Plan

Before discussing what should be covered in your parenting plan, it is important to understand the purpose of such a document within the scope of your family law case. You and your ex may be able to work together to create a parenting plan, but if you cannot agree on the terms of the plan, each of you must file your own parenting plan. Typically, each spouse is required to file a parenting plan within 120 days of petitioning for parental responsibilities. A court will review and consider the parenting plans when deciding how parental responsibilities will be divided. 

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The Effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on Divorce Cases

St. Charles divorce taxes attorney tax reform maintenance mortgage interestLast December, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which represented the largest reform of the U.S. Tax Code in the past 30 years. This law made a wide variety of changes which will affect nearly everyone who pays taxes in the United States, and couples who are planning to get end their marriage should be sure to understand how this law will impact their divorce. Here are three areas of the tax law which will affect divorce cases:

  1. Spousal maintenance - For divorce agreements executed after December 31, 2018, maintenance (alimony) will no longer be tax deductible for the payor, and maintenance payments will no longer be includable as part of the recipient’s gross income. Divorcing spouses should be sure to understand how this change will affect their maintenance payments, and couples with a prenuptial agreement may need to update their agreement to reflect this change to the law.
  2. Mortgage interest - For new home loans taken out after December 14, 2017, the interest is only deductible for the first $750,000 of the mortgage for a first and second home. Taxpayers with existing mortgages can continue to deduct interest on a total of $1 million for a first and second mortgage. However, interest on home equity indebtedness (that is, mortgage debt that is not used to acquire, build, or improve a primary residence) is no longer deductible, even for currently existing home equity. Couples should be sure to understand how these changes will affect the tax implications of dividing real estate property during divorce.
  3. 529 plans - When parents use a Section 529 plan to save for their children’s educational expenses, they are able to withdraw funds from these plans to pay for college expenses without being subject to taxes. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, parents are now allowed to make tax-free distributions of up to $10,000 per beneficiary per year to pay tuition for elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school. Following divorce, parents may be able to use these funds to help pay for their children’s K-12 education.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

The full effects of the tax reform law are still being determined, and couples who are planning to divorce should be sure they understand how their finances will be affected by these changes. At Ariano Hardy Ritt Nyuli Richmond Lytle & Goettel P.C., we can work with you to address every legal and financial issue in your divorce, and we will advocate for your interests throughout the divorce process, ensuring that you will have the financial resources you need as you embark on the next phase of your life. Contact our Elgin divorce lawyers at 847-695-2400 to schedule a free consultation.

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How LLCs Can Benefit from Tax Reform

Elgin business law attorney LLC tax reformThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump last December, made a wide variety of sweeping changes to the United States Tax Code. In addition to reducing the corporate tax rate, the tax reform law implemented some changes which can benefit small business owners, and people should be aware of how they can take advantage of these changes and minimize their tax burden by establishing themselves as a LLC.

Pass-Through Entities and LLCs

One significant change that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made was in how pass-through entities are treated. With pass-through businesses, such as sole proprietorships or LLCs, profits are taxed at the owner’s individual tax rate rather than the corporate tax rate. Under the tax reform law, owners of pass-through entities can now deduct 20% of their qualified business income. 

The pass-through deduction is a “below the line” deduction which is taken from a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). This means that it will apply to a person’s taxable income after other deductions have been made, such as retirement plan contributions, health insurance premiums, alimony, and interest on student loans.

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How Temporary Maintenance May Affect the Duration of Spousal Support

Geneva spousal maintenance attorneyWhen a couple decides to get divorced, they will be required to significantly reconfigure their lives, separating a shared home and finances into two different households. This can result in a great deal of financial upheaval, and when one spouse earns less than their former partner, they may struggle to make ends meet. In these cases, the lower-earning spouse may be eligible to receive financial support (known as spousal maintenance, spousal support, or alimony) from the higher-earning spouse. However, spouses should be aware of some recent changes to Illinois law related to temporary maintenance awarded during divorce and the total duration of maintenance payments.

Temporary Maintenance As a Credit to the Total Duration of Maintenance

Some changes to Illinois divorce law went into effect on January 1, 2018, and the percentages used to determine the duration that spousal maintenance will be paid are now based on the specific number of years of marriage, for marriages between five and 20 years. However, this duration may be affected by temporary maintenance awarded during divorce.

After a spouse has filed a petition for divorce, but before the entry of the final divorce decree, a spouse may petition the court for temporary relief, asking for decisions to be made about how certain matters will be handled while the divorce is pending. Temporary maintenance is one common type of temporary relief, and a spouse can ask to receive support from their partner based on financial affidavits submitted by both parties.

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5 Steps You Should Take After Being Involved in a Car Accident

South Elgin car accident lawyerA car accident is a frightening experience, whether it is a minor rear-end collision or a major fender bender. In the immediate aftermath of a crash, people are often shaken up and unsure of how to handle the situation. By following these steps, you can not only ensure that you address the legal issues surrounding your accident, but you will be prepared to seek compensation for the injuries you have suffered:

  1. Provide assistance - Drivers should always stop their car and, if possible, pull over to the side of the road after an accident, after which they can assess the damage and exchange information with the other driver(s). In Illinois, drivers involved in an accident are required to provide reasonable assistance to anyone who has been injured, including giving medical aid, calling 911, or transporting them to a medical facility.
  1. Contact the police - Even if police officers do not come to the scene of the accident, it is important to report the accident to your local police department. This provides a record of the accident, which can be used to demonstrate fault when making an insurance claim or pursuing a lawsuit.
  1. Obtain evidence - Gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident, including taking photos of vehicle damage, skid marks, road conditions, or any other factors which may have contributed to the collision. Speak to witnesses and write down their contact information. Check to see if any nearby businesses may have security camera footage of the crash.
  1. Seek medical attention - Even if you do not believe you have suffered serious injuries, you, your passengers, and anyone else involved in the accident should see a doctor as soon as possible. Symptoms of car accident injuries, such as head injuries or neck injuries, may not be immediately apparent, and a thorough examination will help you demonstrate the damages which resulted from the crash.
  1. Contact an attorney - An experienced personal injury lawyer can work with you to file a claim with insurance companies, negotiate a settlement that will meet your needs, and advocate for you to receive the compensation that will help you recover from your damages.

Contact a Kane County Car Accident Attorney

At Ariano Hardy Ritt Nyuli Richmond Lytle & Goettel P.C., our skilled attorneys can work with you to protect your rights following a car accident and help you follow the steps that will ensure that you are able to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact an Elgin personal injury lawyer today at 847-695-2400 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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The Term “Permanent Maintenance” Discontinued in Illinois Divorce Law

St. Charles divorce lawyer spousal supportIllinois has a penchant for using a language of its own in matters of child support and spousal support. Just as child custody has been recast as the “allocation of parental responsibility,” permanent maintenance in matters of spousal support (alimony) is now termed “maintenance for an indefinite term.” Importantly, however, with this semantic change comes a new approach to long-term spousal maintenance in Illinois.

Beginning in 2018, Illinois Spousal Support is Less Likely to Be Permanent

“Maintenance for an indefinite term” is less likely to be permanent in nature than “permanent maintenance.” Linguistically, this makes sense, as permanence is synonymous with the word “forever,” while indefiniteness merely speaks to an end point that has yet to be determined. In terms of numbers – which are far more useful than words when it comes to forecasting spousal maintenance in Illinois – the duration of the marriage is a helpful starting point. 

The length of the marriage is often the initial term of years established in a decree of “maintenance for an indefinite term.” While this term, if derived from a marriage of 20 years or more, may in effect amount to permanent maintenance (in the sense that it will go on for the lifetime of each former spouse), the same cannot be said of a relatively brief marriage. For marriages of less than 20 years, maintenance will last for a certain percentage of the length of the marriage. 

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Calculating the Amount and Duration of Spousal Maintenance in Illinois

Kane County alimony lawyerCalculating spousal maintenance (alimony) in Illinois can be somewhat complex. The amount of maintenance payments will be based on the incomes of both spouses, and the duration that these payments will last is based on the length of the marriage. To get an idea of how maintenance is calculated, it is best to consider an example. The below figures, importantly, are reflective of a spousal maintenance calculation for couples whose total income is less than $500,000.

Step 1: Calculate 30% of the Payor’s Income

In this example, the payor’s income is $200,000 per year, the payee’s income is $40,000 per year, and the couple was married for seven years and seven months prior to divorcing. Thus, the total income is $240,000, falling under the $500,000 cap (above which maintenance is determined on a case-by-case basis). The first thing to do is to calculate 30% of the payor’s income; 30% of $200,000 equals $60,000. 

Step 2: Subtract 20% of the Payee’s Income from the 30% of the Payor’s Income

Next, calculate 20% of the payee’s income and subtract this figure from the 30% of the payor’s income. 20% of $40,000 is $8,000, and subtracting this amount from $60,000 equals $52,000. Here, we pause to make sure that adding this $52,000 to the payee’s income of $40,000 (making a total of $92,000) does not exceed 40% of the spouses’ combined income. 40% of $240,000 equals $96,000, so a maintenance award of $52,000 per year is appropriate.

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Understanding Illinois’ Statutory Guidelines for Spousal Maintenance

Elgin spousal maintenance lawyerWhen a couple decides to end their marriage and get divorced, one spouse is often at a financial disadvantage. Whether this is because they have chosen to be a homemaker rather than pursue a career, or simply because they earn a smaller income, they may struggle to make ends meet. In these cases, the law provides them with the ability to receive payments from their former partner which will allow them to maintain a similar standard of living to what they enjoyed while they were married.

In Illinois, the guidelines for determining maintenance (which is also known as spousal support or alimony) are a factor of the parties’ joint income. In matters of maintenance, there is a payor (the person paying out the maintenance) and a payee (the person receiving the maintenance). There is also an important line of demarcation: $500,000. Maintenance award formulas differ, depending on whether the parties’ income is below this figure or not.

A Forty Percent Cap May Complicate Maintenance Calculations

Starting on January 1, 2018, a maintenance award where the parties’ joint income is less than $500,000 annually should equal 30% of the payor’s gross income minus 20% of the payee’s gross income, with the caveat that the award, after being added to the payee’s gross income, cannot be greater than 40% of the parties’ combined gross income. To make this formula more tangible, let us consider an example: 

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Compensation Available to Survivors of a Wrongful Death

Kane County wrongful death lawyerIt is hard to lose a loved one, even if they die from natural causes after having lived a long and meaningful life. When someone’s time is cut short, however, the pain, loss, and grieving is magnified – especially when death has been caused by another’s negligence or intentionally bad conduct. Besides the immense grief and realization that nothing can bring a loved one back, many individuals and families must deal with the stark reality of the loss of support, both financial and emotional, provided by the work, income, and participation in family responsibilities of the lost loved one. When grief is coupled with tenuous financial straits, survivors of the wrongful death of a family member can seek compensation from the person or entity responsible. 

Defining Wrongful Death in Illinois

In general, a wrongful death occurs whenever an individual is killed because of someone’s intentionally wrongful or negligent conduct. More specifically, in the precise legal language of Illinois state law, “whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages,” the individual or entity (e.g. business or other institution) that caused the death may be held liable in a wrongful death suit in civil court.

Eligible Survivors of a Wrongful Death Victim

Only certain close relatives are eligible to seek compensation under the state’s wrongful death statute. These relatives include:

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