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elgin business lawyerStarting or expanding a business can be a great opportunity. However, business owners and entrepreneurs will need to consider a variety of legal and financial issues when doing so. Liability is one area of concern for many business owners, but fortunately, if a business is structured correctly, an owner or partner can ensure that they will not be held personally liable for business debts. During the business formation process, which may take place when a business is initially founded or when an existing business is restructured, an owner will want to select a business entity that will provide them with the protection they need.

Choosing the Right Business Structure

In many cases, a business owner will first form their business as a sole proprietorship, or if there are multiple owners, a business will be formed as a general partnership. In these cases, there will be no separation between assets owned by the business and the personal assets of the owner or partners. While this may allow for more flexibility when starting a business and provide an owner with more control over business operations, it will not provide any protection against liability. This means that an owner or partner may be held personally responsible for business debts or lawsuits against the business.

In some cases where a business has multiple owners, it may be beneficial to create a limited partnership. In these cases, one partner will be a general partner with unlimited liability, and other partners will be limited partners who are protected from liability. A business may also be a limited liability partnership (LLP) in which all partners are limited partners. This will provide them with protection against being held liable for business debts, and one partner will not be liable for another partner’s negligence, misconduct, or malpractice.

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elgin estate planning lawyerA person’s last will and testament describes their final wishes and instructions regarding asset distribution to their heirs. In some cases, family members, other beneficiaries, or others who were close to a person may be unhappy about the decisions made in the person’s will, or they may believe that a will is fraudulent. During the probate process that takes place following a person’s death, a person’s heirs or potential beneficiaries may take legal action to challenge the person’s will. However, a will can only be contested in certain cases, and those who are involved in these types of cases will want to understand how these issues will affect them.

Grounds for Contesting a Will

While one or more of a person’s heirs may be unhappy about the choices made by their loved one, claims of “unfairness” or similar issues will usually not be a valid reason to challenge the person’s will. In most cases, wills can only be contested based on one of the following issues:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity - This refers to a person’s inability to understand what they were signing when creating or updating their will. A beneficiary may claim that a person was not of sound mind, did not have the capacity to understand the decisions they were making, or was not aware of the extent of the assets they owned. While proving that a person did not have the capacity to properly execute a will can be difficult, a beneficiary may be able to do so based on medical evidence. For example, a person may provide evidence showing that the deceased person signed a new will or an update to their previous will after they had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

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truck accident lawyerCommercial trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, and when they are involved in collisions, victims are likely to suffer serious injuries. While there are many reasons that truck accidents occur, driver fatigue is a common factor in these cases. Drivers and passengers who are injured in collisions with semi-trailer trucks can work with an attorney to determine whether the truck driver and the trucking company that employed them can be held liable for the damages they have suffered.

Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue

Drowsy driving is an all-too-common issue for people in the United States, and it is responsible for tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths each year. Due to the long hours that they spend behind the wheel, truck drivers are especially susceptible to driver fatigue. Even if a driver follows the regulations that limit the amount of time they can drive without taking rests, they may still become drowsy, affecting their ability to control their vehicle and avoid collisions.

Some common reasons for truck driver fatigue include:

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elgin divorce lawyerDuring the divorce process, not everyone is honest, and spouses sometimes attempt to gain a financial advantage by hiding money or property from their former partners. Sometimes this is out of malice because one party blames the other for the divorce and believes they deserve a smaller share of marital property. Other times, a divorcing spouse hides assets because they are worried that they will have to give up important items or simply because they are dishonest and selfish. However, spouses are required to divide all of their marital property fairly and equitably, and if a person believes that their spouse is attempting to conceal money or assets, they will want to uncover the property that was hidden. Divorcing spouses who have concerns about hidden assets should work with their attorney to bring this issue to the attention of the court and ensure that their spouse will be held accountable for these wrongful actions.

Places to Look for Hidden Assets

Some spouses use fairly obvious methods to hide assets, such as keeping cash or valuables in hidden locations in their home, in a safety deposit box, or with a friend or family member. They may also convert cash into other types of assets, such as by purchasing artwork or collectibles and then claiming that these items are worth less than what was actually paid. 

Other methods of hiding assets can be more sneaky, and they can sometimes be difficult to uncover without the assistance of a financial expert. A person may transfer money to a friend or family member, claiming that they are paying back debts or making payments for services performed, but they will plan to have the other person transfer the funds back to them after the divorce is over. They may also attempt to convert assets into less traceable forms, such as cryptocurrency or savings bonds.

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elgin real estate lawyerHomeownership is an important goal for many people, and if you are considering buying a home, you will be looking to make one of the most significant and important investments of your lifetime. However, there are many complex financial factors involved in a home purchase, as well as a variety of legal issues that may arise during a transaction. If you are a first-time homebuyer, you will want to consider the following tips:

  • Build and maintain a good credit score - Your credit score will affect your ability to obtain a mortgage as well as the interest rate on your loan. You can increase your credit score by paying bills on time and avoiding large credit card balances. You will also want to avoid doing anything that may decrease your credit score during the process of buying a home, such as closing credit card accounts, making major purchases, or taking out new loans or lines of credit.

  • Get preapproval for a loan - By working with a lender to determine the amount of a loan that you will qualify for, you can understand what you will be able to afford, ensuring that you will be able to make an appropriate offer on a home. Preapproval will also show a seller that you have the financial means to buy a home, making it more likely that they will accept your offer.

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elginAs part of the estate planning process, a family may be looking to make sure they can help their loved ones provide for their needs. This is especially true for family members who have disabilities or other special needs, since they will often need assistance to make sure they will be able to cover their ongoing expenses. However, people with disabilities may also rely on government aid or public benefits, and in many cases, they will only qualify for these types of benefits if they have limited assets or income. This means that a gift of money or assets from a family member could make them ineligible for certain types of benefits. To avoid this issue, a family may be able to set up a special needs trust.

Resources That Affect SSI and Medicaid

Typically, people with qualifying disabilities can receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through Social Security, as well as healthcare benefits through Medicaid. To qualify for these programs, a person must own no more than $2,000 in resources, including cash, funds in bank accounts, investments, or retirement savings. 

Rather than gifting money or assets directly to a person with special needs, it can be better to create a trust. With a special needs trust, assets will not be owned by the person, but by the trust itself, and a trustee will manage these assets and distribute them to the beneficiary. Ensuring that assets in the trust are used for the proper purposes will help the beneficiary meet certain needs without jeopardizing their eligibility for government aid.

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elgin injury lawyerWhen you visit someone else’s property, including a commercial establishment such as a bar or nightclub, the property owner has a legal duty to protect your safety. If you are injured in one of these locations, you may be able to hold the property owner liable through a premises liability lawsuit. Inadequate or negligent security is one common reason that injuries may occur at a bar or nightclub. By showing that the owner of an establishment did not take the proper measures to ensure that patrons were safe from harm, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries and damages.

Injuries Caused by Negligent Security

In many cases, injuries at bars or nightclubs are intentionally inflicted by someone else rather than being accidental. When disagreements or arguments arise between patrons, bar fights may break out, and one person could seriously injure another, or an innocent bystander may be caught in the middle. To prevent these types of injuries, an establishment should have the proper security staff who are trained in how to prevent or break up fights, remove people who are aggressive towards others, and ensure that bystanders are not injured because of overcrowding or the presence of objects that could be used as weapons.

The patrons of a bar or restaurant may also be exposed to the risk of injury while outside of an establishment. Assaults or robberies may occur if the proper security is not provided. Inadequate security may include a lack of security cameras to monitor a building’s exterior or security guards to patrol the area, as well as insufficient lighting in parking areas.

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elgin divorce lawyerIf you own a business, it is probably one of your most valuable assets. After putting years of time and effort into building your business, you will want to make sure you can continue to own and operate it, no matter what happens. Unfortunately, a business can sometimes be a tricky issue to address when couples get divorced. If your marriage has broken down, or if you want to address what will happen if you choose to get a divorce in the future, you will need to be sure to understand how the ownership of your business will be handled.

Business Assets as Marital or Separate Property

The first issue that business owners will need to address is whether their business is part of the marital estate. Typically, if a business was founded or acquired after a couple’s marriage, it will be considered marital property, even if only one spouse was involved in starting and managing the business. In these cases, the business will be part of the property division process, and both spouses will have an equal ownership claim.

If a spouse had owned a business before the couple got married, it will usually be considered separate property. Since the business is not part of the marital estate, it will not need to be divided during divorce. However, if the business increased in value during the marriage, that increase may be considered marital property, especially if the non-owner spouse made contributions to the business. In these cases, the business owner spouse may need to reimburse the other spouse for the contributions that increased the value of their separate property.

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illinois injury lawyerWhen a person is injured because of someone else’s actions or negligence, they can be affected in multiple ways. Some of the damages that a person may experience can be easy to understand and place a monetary value on. For example, a car accident may result in medical bills and the need for vehicle repairs, and a person’s injuries may cause them to be unable to earn income while they are recovering. By detailing their expenses and the economic impact of their injury, a victim can pursue compensation for these financial losses. However, an injury may also result in emotional trauma, and a victim may also receive compensation for pain and suffering. During a personal injury case, it is important to work with an attorney to ensure that a victim will be fully compensated for all the damages they have suffered.

Personal Injury Cases and Emotional Distress

The forms of compensation that may be available to personal injury victims are usually grouped into the categories of economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include quantifiable financial losses resulting from an injury. Non-economic damages usually include pain and suffering, and it can sometimes be more difficult to determine the monetary value of these types of damages.

Emotional trauma is usually included in the consideration of the pain and suffering an injury victim has experienced. The effects of emotional distress may include:

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Elgin family law attorneyFor any parent, one of their primary concerns is ensuring that they can provide for their child’s needs. All parents are required to support their children financially, and when parents are not married or living together, child support orders will need to be established. In these situations, which may involve parents who are getting divorced or unmarried parents who are separated, parents will want to understand how child support obligations will be determined.

Illinois’ Child Support Laws

For many years, child support payments in Illinois were calculated by taking a straight percentage of the paying parent’s income. While this was a straightforward method, it did not address the income earned by the recipient of child support, which could sometimes put the paying parent at a financial disadvantage. To address this, Illinois revamped its method for calculating child support in 2017, and the state now uses an income-sharing process that bases child support on both parents’ incomes.

Under the income-sharing approach, an appropriate amount of child support is determined based on the monthly amount that a married couple who earns the same combined income level as a child’s parents would spend to provide for their child’s needs. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services maintains a table listing child support obligations for one to six children at different combined income ranges. This table is used to establish an appropriate amount that the parents will be required to pay for the number of children they share.

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Elgin business lawyer for COVID-19 vaccine policiesOver the past year, many businesses have made accommodations in their workplaces to ensure that employees are safe from becoming infected with COVID-19. Due to the increased availability of vaccines, many people who have been working from home are beginning to return to work in person, and employers are taking steps to ensure that their workplaces are safe for employees. However, many employers are uncertain about their requirements related to COVID-19 vaccines for employees, so they should be sure to understand how the authorities in Illinois are addressing these issues.

Can Employers Require Employees to Be Vaccinated?

Currently, the State of Illinois is leaving decisions about COVID-19 vaccinations for employees up to the discretion of employers. An employer may require employees to be vaccinated, or they may allow employees to choose whether or not to receive the vaccine. However, if an employer requires employees to be vaccinated, they must compensate employees for the time spent obtaining the vaccine. Typically, an employer will provide paid leave while employees receive their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

If an employer does not require employees to become vaccinated, and employees voluntarily choose to receive the vaccine, the employer should allow employees to use sick time or other paid time off to obtain the first and second doses of the vaccine. Employees should also be allowed to use sick leave to help children or other family members obtain vaccinations. Additionally, employers are permitted to ask for proof of vaccination from employees to verify that they have been vaccinated.

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Kane County identity theft protection attorneyIn a recent blog, we looked at the issue of tax-related identity theft, which can occur when a person steals someone else’s information and files a fraudulent tax return in their name. Another form of identity theft that is sometimes related to these illegal practices involves a person applying for unemployment benefits in someone else’s name. Unfortunately, this practice has become more widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic as scammers attempt to take advantage of expanded unemployment programs. Individuals and families who are building a wealth protection strategy will want to address any forms of identity theft quickly and take the proper measures to ensure that they will not be victimized by this type of fraud.

Reporting Unemployment-Related Identity Theft

In many cases, people become aware that they have been the victim of identity theft when they receive notice of unemployment benefits being paid in their name, even though they never applied for these benefits. In other cases, a person may receive a 1099-G tax form stating that they received unemployment benefits and are required to pay taxes on the amount that was paid out.

After learning of a false unemployment claim, Illinois residents should immediately contact the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) in writing to report the identity theft. A victim of identity theft will not be required to repay IDES for any fraudulent benefits that were paid out, and they will be able to receive unemployment benefits in the future if necessary. The IDES has noted that due to widespread unemployment fraud, notices may be sent out stating that a person must pay back an overpayment of benefits. Those who have reported identity theft can ignore these notices, although they may want to contact the IDES to verify their requirements.

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Elgin, IL tax planning lawyerThe first few months of every year are known as “tax season,” and during this time, many taxpayers compile their financial information and prepare to file their tax returns, which are due on April 15th. Unfortunately, many taxpayers may become the victims of identity theft during this time. If a taxpayer’s personal information is compromised, scammers may file fraudulent tax returns in their name, access their accounts, or use their information to open new accounts or obtain employment. A person’s identifying information may also be used to file false unemployment claims (we will be providing more information about this type of identity theft in an upcoming blog). However, families can take steps to prevent identity theft as a part of their larger wealth protection strategy.

Signs of Identity Theft

Scammers may use a variety of methods to obtain a taxpayer’s personal information, such as calling a person, claiming to be an IRS agent, stating that the person owes money, and asking for details such as bank account numbers or the person’s Social Security number. They may then use this information to file a tax return and claim a refund in the person’s name.

A taxpayer may have been the victim of identity theft it:

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Elgin, IL small business attorney for PPP loansThe COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the U.S. economy. In many cases, small businesses have been hit the hardest. Many businesses have been forced to close, scale back their operations, or come up with new ways of completing essential business activities. This has in turn caused difficulties for people who have been laid off or forced to reduce the hours they can work and the amount they are able to earn. To address these ongoing problems, the federal government has passed economic stimulus and relief programs meant to help businesses continue operating and paying their employees. A law that was implemented at the end of 2020 may provide businesses with more opportunities to receive relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Relief for Businesses Through PPP Loans

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed in March of 2020, created the Paycheck Protection Program. Under this program, businesses that had been affected by the pandemic could obtain low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA), and these loans were forgivable, as long as a certain percentage of the balance was used to pay employee wages and other payroll costs.

Initially, applications for PPP loans had to be submitted by June 30, 2020. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA), which was passed on December 27, 2020, reopened the Paycheck Protection Program, making it available to businesses that had already received a PPP loan, while also allowing other types of businesses to receive loans for the first time, including sole proprietors, independent contractors, and people who are self-employed. 

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Kane County business law attorneysThe COVID-19 crisis has placed many businesses and their employees in difficult financial situations. Some businesses have had to close or limit their hours of operation, and many employees have been laid off or had their work hours reduced. While some government relief programs have provided aid to those who have been affected by these issues, many people are continuing to experience financial difficulties. A recent executive order may provide some help in this area by allowing employers to defer some of the taxes withheld from employees’ pay.

Social Security Tax Deferral

In August of 2020, President Trump issued an executive order that allows for the deferral of the 6.2% tax employees pay toward Social Security. This deferral will be allowed for wages earned between September 1 and December 31, 2020. To qualify for deferral, an employee must earn less than $4,000 in pre-tax income in a bi-weekly pay period.

While these payroll taxes may be deferred, this order does not provide for the forgiveness of any taxes owed. Deferred taxes will be collected between January 1 and April 30, 2021. During the deferral period, employees will receive a temporary boost in their take-home pay, but they will then see reduced paychecks in 2021 due to the deferred taxes being withheld from their pay along with all other applicable taxes.

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Kane County family law attorneysConcerns about discrimination and harassment affect many employers and employees, and in response to these issues, the state of Illinois has passed the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA). This law went into effect on January 1, 2020, and in addition to addressing employment contracts and non-disclosure agreements, it has placed new requirements on employers regarding sexual harassment training that must be provided to employees. Business owners should be sure to understand these requirements and make sure they take the right steps to maintain compliance with the WTA.

When Will a Business Be Required to Provide Sexual Harassment Training?

The Workplace Transparency Act requires all employers with at least one employee to provide sexual harassment training to all staff members. This training must be completed by December 31, 2020, and it must also be provided on an annual basis to all employees. 

The training requirements apply to all employees who will be working in Illinois, including part-time workers, temporary or seasonal employees, and interns. While training is not required for independent contractors, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) encourages employers to provide training for anyone who will be working at an employer’s office or interacting with their employees.

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Kane County business law attorney for PPP loan forgivenessIn response to the financial impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on many businesses, the U.S. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March of 2020. One of the key provisions of this act was the ability for businesses to apply for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, the restrictions and requirements for these loans had caused some difficulties for small business owners, and in response, Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, and it was signed into law by President Trump on June 5. This act implemented a number of changes that will give businesses more options for using loan funds, obtaining forgiveness, and repaying loans.

Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program

Under the CARES Act, businesses could apply for a PPP loan, and they were required to spend the funds from these loans within eight weeks after receiving a loan. This time period has been modified to allow businesses to choose a reporting period of either 8 or 24 weeks. However, the 24-week period is from the loan origination date or until December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier (which may result in less than 24 weeks). This period can be used to restore a business’s workforce to pre-COVID-19 levels, and the deadline for doing so has been moved from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020. However, the deadline for applying for a PPP loan has not changed, and applications must be submitted by June 30, 2020.

If a business is unable to fully restore its workforce, there are some new exceptions that may apply that will still allow for forgiveness of PPP loans. These include provisions for businesses that are unable to rehire previous employees or other people with similar qualifications, as well as businesses that were unable to return to their previous level of business activity due to restrictions related to COVID-19.

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Elgin small business attorney CARES act covid-19Over the weekend, the United States Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides new programs and initiatives intended to assist small businesses, as well as certain non-profits and other employers.

Do You Need:

1. Capital to cover the cost of retaining employees?

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans will provide cash-flow assistance to employers through 100% federally-guaranteed loans. The loans are available for employers are who maintaining their payroll during the coronavirus emergency and are eligible to be forgiven if the payroll is maintained. Borrowers are eligible for loan forgiveness for up to eight weeks of their payroll, depending on employee retention and salary levels. 

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Elgin trust administration attorneyThere are a variety of estate planning tools that a person can use to protect their assets and pass them on to beneficiaries. Trusts are some of the most powerful and flexible of these tools, allowing a trustmaker (also known as a “settlor”) to place assets in the control of a trustee, who will then distribute the assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust. There are certain requirements that must be met during the trust administration process, and trustees and beneficiaries should be sure to understand how recent changes to Illinois law will affect their rights and responsibilities.

The Illinois Trust Code

In 2019, the Illinois legislature passed the Illinois Trust Code (ITC), which took effect on January 1, 2020, replacing the Illinois Trusts and Trustees Act. This new law addresses the rights of trust beneficiaries in a number of ways, including:

  • For trusts that become irrevocable on or after January 1, 2020, the trustee must provide an annual accounting of the trust’s inventory, receipts, and disbursements to ALL beneficiaries. These include beneficiaries who are currently receiving or could receive a distribution from the trust, as well as presumptive remainder beneficiaries who would be eligible to receive a distribution if the trust was terminated or if the interests of other beneficiaries ended. In the case of married couples, it is typical for one spouse to create a trust for the benefit of the surviving spouse during the surviving spouse’s lifetime, and then, upon the death of the surviving spouse, the trust would distribute the trust assets to their children. This new law REQUIRES the children to receive annual accountings during the surviving spouse’s lifetime, which may or may not be desire of the creator of the trust. If not desired, the creator of the trust can “opt-out” of this requirement.   
  • A settlor may create a “silent trust” that waives the requirement for the trustee to provide an accounting of the trust to beneficiaries under the age of 30. However, the trustee will be required to make an annual account to a “designated representative” nominated or authorized by the settlor, and the beneficiary will have the right to receive an annual accounting upon reaching the age of 30.
  • Trustees are not required to provide beneficiaries with advance notice of transactions involving property owned by the trust.
  • A beneficiary of a trust can serve as the designated representative of other beneficiaries, including minors, unborn children, or beneficiaries who have not been located.
  • A beneficiary can serve as the sole trustee of a trust, but in these cases, they will only be able to make distributions to themselves based on an “ascertainable standard.” This means that distributions should be used to provide for needs such as healthcare, living expenses, or education, rather than to pay off personal obligations or debts.

Contact a Kane County Trusts Attorney

If you are the beneficiary of a trust, you should be sure to understand how your rights will change under the ITC. At Ariano Hardy Ritt Nyuli Richmond Lytle & Goettel, P.C., our experienced Elgin estate planning lawyers can answer your questions about trusts, and we can assist you in any matters involving trust administration. To arrange a free consultation, contact us today at 847-695-2400.

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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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