Frequently Asked Questions

When do i lose the earnest money i put down on a house?

When you make an offer to buy a house, you signed a real estate contract. The conditions under which you will lose your earnest money are contained in the contract. Generally, if you are unable to come up with the purchase money at closing, you will lose your earnest money. The typical contract has a mortgage contingency clause, which provides that the contract is contingent upon the buyer obtaining a mortgage commitment by some specified date. If the buyer is unable to obtain the commitment, the contract is void and the earnest money is returned to the buyer. Some people mistakenly believe that they will lose their earnest money if they cannot get a mortgage commitment, but that is not true.


The eviction process in Illinois begins with providing notice of the eviction to the tenant. Evictions for nonpayment of rent require a five-day notice. Evictions for all other reasons require a 10-day notice. Evictions where the lease contains a specific end date do not require any notice. If the lease agreement contains a longer time than that provided by law, for example, 30 days, the longer time would apply. If the tenant fails to move out after the eviction notice is served, the next step is to file an eviction suit. The length of time involved depends upon how long the sheriff's department takes to serve notice on the tenant, how quickly a court date is set, whether the court date is ever postponed, and whether the tenant appeals a decision rendered against him or her.

under what conditions should i put my possessions in a trust?

Some people choose to place their possessions in a living trust in order to save their descendants the trouble of having to put the estate through probate after their death. This works, however, only if every asset is part of the trust. If not, those assets that are not part of the estate will generally have to be probated. A trust can also be an estate-planning tool to help larger estates avoid or reduce estate taxes. The first spouse to die can transfer his or her estate to the surviving spouse without incurring estate taxes. The surviving spouse's estate, however, will pay estate taxes when he or she dies. By placing their assets in trusts, a married couple can avoid or reduce what their estate otherwise would have had to pay. Talk to an estate planning attorney to discuss whether a trust makes sense for you.


what are my options if my ex-spouse stops paying child support ?

Your first option concerns who will collect the overdue child support. You can do it yourself, or you can hire someone else to do it, such as a lawyer, collection agency, or social services agency. Changes have been made to the law in recent years to give you easier and more powerful tools to collect overdue amounts. For example, you can have your ex-spouse's driver's license suspended, under certain conditions, and you can get the court to issue an order withholding pay from your ex-spouse's paycheck. Doing it yourself will be the cheapest option. Whether you want to handle it yourself will depend upon the time you have, how hard you believe your ex-spouse will fight the process, whether you ex-spouse lives in Illinois, and whether your ex-spouse has a steady job. One suggestion is to go to your local courthouse and ask them what processes are available to you. If it sounds too difficult or time-consuming, talk to a divorce attorney.


COBRA is a federal law that allows an individual between jobs to continue to pay for health insurance coverage provided to him in his previous job, under certain conditions. Generally, it provides coverage for 18 months. The coverage can be extended up to 36 months under certain conditions, such as where coverage is terminated due to the employee's death or divorce.


WHEN do you have to probate a will?

If all of a decedent's assets were transferred to a trust, and nothing transfers by reason of his death, probate will not be necessary. Otherwise, if ownership of any of the decedent's property passes by reason of his or her death, probate will be necessary, unless the estate has a value less than $50,000 (because special rules apply for those smaller estates).


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