Frequently Asked Legal Questions

Frequently Asked Legal Questions
Why do I need a lawyer for the sale of my home?
Why do I need a lawyer for the purchase of my home?
My lender gave me a pre-approval letter. What does that mean?
What does the seller need to do in order to sell the property?
What does the purchaser do between the time the contract is signed and the closing?
What are the benefits of having a revocable living trust?
What is a Power of Attorney for property?
What is a Power of Attorney for health care?
What is Probate?
Does my estate need to go through the probate process if I have a will?
Can someone contest (object to) a will?
Does all of the deceased person’s property need to be probated?
Will I be paid for serving as the executor, administrator or trustee?
What if my loved one died without a will or trust in place?
How much will the probate process cost and how long will it take?
Where does Karyn practice?


Why do I need a lawyer for the sale of my home?
Your real estate attorney will negotiate the terms of the contract and inspection issues raised by the purchaser, order title and survey, communicate with you and the real estate agent to clear title issues that arise, prepare the deed and other closing documents and attend the closing.



Why do I need a lawyer for the purchase of my home?
Your real estate attorney will make sure that the seller follows the terms of the contract, work with your lender to aid in the loan approval process, negotiate contract and repair issues, and review the title and survey to ensure that the property you are purchasing has appropriate coverage.



My lender gave me a pre-approval letter. What does that mean?
A pre-approval letter is helpful to let you and the seller of the property know that you have met some preliminary hurdles in obtaining a loan. However, a pre-approval letter does not mean that loan approval is final. Once you enter into a contract, your lender will do additional review, called underwriting, before your loan can be approved. Some of the items reviewed are the contract to ensure it is properly signed, and the appraisal to ensure the property value is adequate compared to the loan amount. The lender will also review the title, obtain transcripts of your tax returns, verify the source of funds in your bank account and perform other steps to ensure that the bank is taking on a good loan with an acceptable level of risk.



What does the seller need to do in order to sell the property?
The seller’s attorney will order title commitment and survey and then prepare the documents the seller will sign at closing. The seller’s attorney and the real estate agent typically work with the seller to obtain mortgage payoff letters, condominium documents, paid assessment letters, local transfer tax stamps, local inspection requirements and the final water bill. The seller should handle any repairs that were agreed to as part of the contract negotiation and make sure that the property is in broom-clean condition if possession is going to be granted at closing.



What does the purchaser do between the time the contract is signed and the closing?
The purchaser should have a property inspection performed within one week of the contract being signed. If there are inspection issues, the purchaser will work with their attorney to reach an agreement with the seller. If there is a loan involved, the purchaser needs to provide documents and other information the lender requests on a timely basis. Otherwise, the loan approval process will be delayed. Once the loan is approved, the purchaser attends the closing, signs loan documents and with lender approval, the keys are transferred to the purchaser.



What are the benefits of having a revocable living trust?
A living trust, in most cases, avoids probate, minimizes estate administration expenses and minimizes estate taxes. It is privately managed as opposed to being a public proceeding.



What is a Power of Attorney for property?
A Power of Attorney for Property permits you to name an agent who will carry on your financial affairs in the event that you become incapacitated. You can name anyone to act as your power of attorney; most commonly a spouse or domestic partner, a trusted family member, or friend. Appointing a power of attorney allows you to decide who will make decisions for you.



What is a Power of Attorney for health care?
A Power of Attorney for Health Care permits you to name an agent to make decisions about your medical treatment if you are unable to decide for yourself. You can allow your health care agent to decide about all health care or only about certain treatments and give your agent instructions that he or she is legally obligated to follow. Your agent can then legally ensure that health care professionals follow your wishes.



What is Probate?
Probate refers to the judicial process used to determine if a will is valid. If there is no will, the probate court will determine who should administer the estate and the identity of the legal heirs. The probate process may include finding and preparing an inventory of the assets of the estate, accounting for the income and expenses of the estate, appraising property, paying taxes and creditors. Heirs may contest the validity of a will or other matters regarding distribution of the estate. Those issues are also heard by the probate court.



Does my estate need to go through the probate process if I have a will?
Real estate and assets in excess of a certain value held in the name of the deceased person will sometimes need to go through the probate process. Keep in mind that the probate process also provides some valuable protections.



Can someone contest (object to) a will?
Yes, the law gives certain people the right to object to wills within certain time frames. If the will is contested, the Executor will need to provide the court with certain proofs that the will is valid. A family member who is omitted or receives a smaller distribution than other family members may try to contest a will to increase their share of inheritance.



Does all of the deceased person’s property need to be probated?
Not all of a deceased person’s property needs to be probated. Through careful planning, probate proceedings can be avoided.

The following types of assets are usually non-probate assets, but this should be reviewed by your attorney:

  • Bank and retirement accounts where beneficiaries have been designated by the deceased person
  • Life insurance policies where beneficiaries have been designated by the deceased person
  • Bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) designations or “in trust for” designations
  • Property owned by a living trust.


Will I be paid for serving as the executor, administrator or trustee?
Unless the document appointing the Executor or Trustee states otherwise, an Executor, Administrator or Trustee is entitled to fees for serving in their capacity.



What if my loved one died without a will or trust in place?
The Probate Act sets forth a process for estates with no will, referred to as “intestate estates.” The law determines who has priority to act as Administrator and who has the right to receive an inheritance.



How much will the probate process cost and how long will it take?
The cost and length of time vary depending on various factors including the type and location of assets in the estate, claims against the estate, lawsuits against the estate, foreclosures against real estate owned by the estate and whether the estate has lawsuits against other parties. Will contests or disputes by family members or by creditors can also add to the cost and time required to handle a probate estate.



Where does Karyn practice?
Karyn offers her services to clients throughout the Chicagoland region, including Cook, DuPage, Will and Kane counties. Her area of service includes but is not limited to:

Bridgeview

Brookfield

Burbank

Burr Ridge

Chicago

Chicago Ridge

Crestwood

Darien

Downers Grove

Hickory HIlls

Hinsdale

LaGrange

Lemont

Lombard

Oak Brook

Oak Forest

Oak Lawn

Orland Park

Palos Heights

Palos Hills

Palos Park

Tinley Park

Westchester

Western Springs

Westmont

Woodridge

Worth

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