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DuPage County, IL real estate lawyerWhen transferring a property title, even small mistakes can cause major legal and financial headaches down the road. Here are some of the most common Illinois real estate transfer mistakes to avoid under Illinois law and how a lawyer can help.

Signing Before Final Walkthrough

Do not sign final closing documents until completing a final property walkthrough to ensure no changes or new damage has occurred. It is tempting to sign closing papers early to get one step closer to moving in, but this risks major unnoticed problems. 

Sellers could cover up or fail to disclose issues like roof leaks, foundation cracks, faulty wiring, or plumbing that arise at the last minute. Signing too early leaves you legally bound without recourse. Always insist on a final walkthrough within 24 hours of closing to check the property thoroughly before signing.


DuPage County real estate lawyerEnding your residential lease early can be complicated in Illinois. While the law does allow tenants to break a lease under certain conditions, you must follow proper protocols. Tenants who terminate illegally risk financial penalties and eviction. A lawyer can help you, but it is important you also follow the proper legal steps. Here is what you should do for a lawful process for early lease termination in Illinois.

Review Your Lease Agreement Carefully

The first step is to thoroughly read your entire lease agreement, paying close attention to any provisions about early termination. Many leases outline specific notice periods, fees, or conditions required for legal early move out. Failing to comply means defaulting.

Proper Notice to Your Landlord is Key

In most standard Illinois residential leases, tenants are required to provide 30 days' written notice to legally terminate early. The notice period commences at the start of the next rental period after notice is given. Inform your landlord in writing as soon as possible once you decide to leave.


DuPage County, IL estate planning lawyerOne of the most popular estate planning tools that are available is a trust. There are a number of different types of trusts that can be utilized, depending on what your needs are. Many of the clients who meet with our Illinois estate planning attorneys are often surprised at the number of assets that can be protected by placing them in a trust. The following touches on some of the benefits a trust offers. Contact our office for more detailed information.

What Is a Trust?

A trust is a legal instrument that protects assets from various risks that could ultimately lead to some sort of loss of those assets. Some of the more common risks include:

  • Divorce


Cook County residential real estate lawyerOne of the most critical pieces of documentation in a real estate transaction is the purchase contract between the buyer and seller. This contract is usually drafted once the buyer has made an offer on the property and the seller has accepted that offer. This contract outlines all of the terms and conditions of the transaction, providing protection for both parties. The following are some of the key components that should be included in the contract. For more detailed information regarding a real estate transaction you are considering, make sure to consult with a qualified real estate attorney.

Basic Information

Every real estate contract should clearly state the identification of the parties entering into the agreement, including names, current addresses, and contact information. This will eliminate any confusion about who the contract applies to should issues come up in the future.

The contract should also list a specific date for the real estate closing. This is where the property will officially be transferred from the seller to the buyer. The date should be far enough out to allow for appraisals, inspections, and other documentation that will need to be addressed.


Cook County Estate Planning LawyerOne of the most crucial decisions parents will need to make is choosing who will be their child’s legal guardian in the event they are unable to care for their child because of illness, incapacity, death, or other unexpected circumstances. The person they choose will need to step in to provide the love, support, and guidance that every child needs.

When deciding who this person should be, the following are some of the factors that parents should consider.

Shared Values and Beliefs

When choosing a legal guardian for your child, you want to make sure it is someone who shares your values, beliefs, and parenting style. It is important to choose someone who will uphold the same principles and provide a similar upbringing to what you would want for your child. Consider their moral and ethical values, as well as their approach to discipline, education, and religion.


Cook County Pour-Over Will LawyerThere are many estate planning tools available that will ensure your family is protected when you are no longer here. One of those tools is called a pour-over will. A pour-over will is a type of will that works in alliance with a revocable trust (also referred to as a living trust). The purpose of a pour-over will is to make sure that any assets that the decedent did not get the opportunity to place in the trust before they die are transferred into the trust upon their death.

Integration with a Revocable Trust

A pour-over will is designed to work alongside a revocable trust, which is a legal entity created during a person's lifetime to hold and manage their assets. The assets are placed in the trust, with the contents passing to the named beneficiaries when the person dies. The pour-over will acts as a safety net, ensuring that any assets not transferred to the trust before death are still included.

A pour-over will typically includes provisions that direct the distribution of assets not already placed in the trust. These assets are referred to as the residual estate and may consist of property or other assets that were inadvertently left out of the trust.


Cook County Real Estate LawyerA title search involves investigating the history of a property’s ownership and legal status to ensure there is a clear and marketable title. It is a vital step in any real estate transaction and should never be overlooked. When engaging in any real estate transaction, whether buying or selling a property, conducting a thorough title search is paramount, providing essential information that protects all parties involved and ensures a smooth transfer of ownership.

Rightful Ownership

One primary purpose of a title search is to establish the rightful owner of the property. By examining public records, including deeds, mortgages, and liens, the title search uncovers any existing claims or encumbrances on the property. These can include unpaid taxes, outstanding mortgages, judgments, or other legal disputes. Identifying such issues in advance helps prevent costly surprises and potential legal battles in the future.

Protects Investment

A title search also safeguards the buyer’s investment. It verifies that the seller has the legal authority to transfer ownership and guarantees that the property is free from undisclosed liens or claims. Without a comprehensive title search, the buyer could inherit existing debts or legal entanglements tied to the property, potentially leading to financial hardships or even loss of the property.


What Are the Benefits of an LLC?

Posted on in Business Law

Cook County Business Law AttorneyWhen you start a business, one of the most important decisions you will need to make is what business structure your company will have. Structuring a business as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) offers several advantages that make it a popular choice among entrepreneurs. Whether you are starting a small business or embarking on a new venture, considering the benefits of an LLC can help you make an informed decision. The following are some key advantages of structuring a business as an LLC. For more detailed information, contact Whitacre & Stefanczuk LTD for legal assistance.

Limited Liability Protection

One of the primary benefits of an LLC is the limited liability protection it provides to its owners, referred to as members. The personal assets of the members are generally protected from business debts and liabilities. In the event of legal claims or financial obligations, the members’ personal assets, such as homes or savings accounts, are typically shielded from being used to satisfy business-related liabilities.

Flexible Management Structure

LLCs offer flexibility in terms of management and decision-making. Unlike corporations, LLCs are not required to have a board of directors or follow strict organizational formalities. Members have the freedom to structure the management of the company as they see fit. This allows for streamlined decision-making and operational efficiency.


Cook County Business LawyerBusiness formations refer to the legal structures that entrepreneurs can choose when starting a business. These structures determine issues such as liability, taxation, ownership, and decision-making processes. The following is a brief overview of the four most common types of business structures. For more detailed information, contact Whitacre & Stefanczuk LTD.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common type of business formation. In this structure, a single individual owns and operates the business. It offers ease of setup and allows the owner to have complete control over decision-making. However, the owner is personally liable for the business's debts and obligations.


Partnerships involve two or more people who share ownership and responsibilities. There are two main types of partnerships: general partnerships and limited partnerships. In a general partnership, all partners have equal authority and are jointly liable for the business's obligations. In a limited partnership, there are general partners who manage the business and limited partners who invest but have limited liability.


Cook County Trusts LawyerThere are multiple estate planning tools available that can help ensure your family is protected when you are no longer here. One of the most common instruments used is trusts. Trusts allow individuals to transfer assets to their beneficiaries while avoiding probate and minimizing tax liabilities. There are several different types of trusts available, each with its own unique benefits and limitations. The following is a brief overview. For more detailed information, call our office to speak with a seasoned estate planning attorney.

Revocable Trust

A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, is a trust that can be amended or revoked during the lifetime of the grantor. This type of trust allows the grantor to maintain control over their assets while alive. Upon the death of the grantor, the assets are then turned over to the beneficiary of the trust, avoiding the probate process for those assets.

Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust is a trust that cannot be changed or terminated once it has been established. This type of trust is often used to transfer assets to beneficiaries while minimizing tax liabilities since assets held in an irrevocable trust are typically not subject to estate taxes.


DuPage County Business Formation AttorneysA business partnership allows a company to benefit from the skills, experience, and unique perspectives of multiple people. Partnering with another person also allows you to share expenses and job responsibilities, promoting a healthier work-life balance.

However, partnerships are not without risk - especially if you do not have a solid partnership agreement in place. To give your company the best chances of long-term success and reduce the risk of conflict, make sure you have a well-written partnership agreement that includes details about decision-making authority, profits and distribution, ownership percentages, and how the partnership can be modified or dissolved.

Ownership and Capital Contributions 

Define the ownership percentages of each partner in your agreement. Each partner's share of ownership is usually proportionate to how much capital each partner has contributed (or will contribute) to the business, such as start-up costs or ongoing investments.


DuPage County Estate Planning LawyerFor many people, estate planning and incapacitation planning are responsibilities that get put off as long as possible. Understandably, most people do not want to face their own mortality and plan for incapacitation or death. However, these responsibilities are extremely important and should not be procrastinated. A severe injury or illness can occur at any time to anyone.

Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to make decisions about how your medical and financial decision making will be handled if you cannot make the decisions yourself.

Types of Advance Directives

Advance directives allow you to remain in control of your personal affairs even if you are incapacitated by a medical condition. Using these documents, you will make decisions in advance so that there is no question as to what your wishes are, in the event that you cannot express the wishes yourself. Some of the most common advanced directives include:


DuPage County Landord-Tenant Dispute LawyerLandlords wear many hats and juggle countless responsibilities. For many landlords and property owners, one of the worst aspects of the job is handling tenant evictions. It is an unpleasant process that nobody wants to face, and the global pandemic has presented landlords with even more challenges when it comes to evicting tenants.

Although most eviction moratoriums and other covid-related restrictions have been lifted by now, the pandemic changed the nature of the landlord-tenant relationship. Many tenants are set on doing everything they can to avoid meeting the terms of their lease agreements while remaining in their homes. If you are struggling to evict a tenant, it is important to understand the current eviction process in order to ensure that you are following the law and protecting your rights as a landlord.

Cook County, Illinois Eviction Process

Most evictions occur because a tenant is not paying rent or otherwise violated the lease. In Illinois, evictions are a judicial process. The first step is serving a notice to the tenant. If the eviction notice is based on failure to pay rent, the notice is a 5-day notice. If the tenant is in violation of the lease agreement, it is a 10-day notice. Month-to-month renters must be served with a Notice of Termination of Periodic Tenancy. The type of notice you will need to provide depends on many different factors, including the Illinois county where the rental property is located. This is why many landlords work with real estate lawyers to ensure they are following the current law correctly.


DuPage County Commercial Real Estate LawyerPurchasing a commercial property represents an exciting opportunity for any investor. If you own commercial real estate, you know this firsthand. Whether you plan to use the commercial property yourself or lease it out to another party, you likely have ambitious plans for the future. Unfortunately, many commercial real estate investors find their plans derailed by excessive property tax obligations.

In this blog, we will discuss the legal options available to commercial real estate owners in this predicament. It may be possible to lower your tax burden by filing an appeal or taking advantage of certain tax incentives.

How to Appeal a Property Tax Assessment for a Commercial Property

An old saying states that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. Still, your tax bill should not be so demanding that it ruins your future ambitions. If you think a commercial property tax assessment is too high, you should consider filing an appeal with the local taxing authority. The exact process for appealing depends on your jurisdiction, but here are some general tips to keep in mind:


cook county estate planning lawyerMany people put off conversations about estate planning for years, and understandably so. Conversations about end-of-life care, inheritance, and other sensitive topics around estate planning can be uncomfortable and sad for parents and children. Furthermore, many parents assume that if they do not write a will, their children will automatically inherit anything they have. If the family home is the single or most valuable possession they will pass on, they may assume the children will inherit it equally. 

Unfortunately, this is not always true. Although making an estate plan can bring up unpleasant thoughts and feelings, putting it off or not doing it at all is a mistake for the parents and the children. If distributing your property after you pass away is important to you, it is essential to create an estate plan reflecting your wishes. 

What Happens to a Home If There is No Will? 

If one partner in a married couple passes away and there is no will, what happens next will depend on whether the deceased partner has any living descendants. If there are no children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, the surviving spouse inherits the full property of the deceased spouse. If there are living descendants and no will, the surviving spouse receives half of the deceased spouse’s inheritance, and the first line of living descendants (usually the deceased spouse’s children) will divide the other share. If there is only one parent alive and that parent passes away, the children inherit everything. 


An Overview of Short Sales in Illinois

Posted on in Real Estate

Oak Brook residential real estate lawyerRising mortgage rates, property taxes, and other economic challenges mean that many homeowners are struggling to make monthly payments on their homes. This can put enormous pressure on a family and require them to make a decision about how to manage their spiraling mortgage debt fast. One option may be putting a house up for short sale. If you are interested in learning more about short sales, how they work, and how one might be helpful to you, read on and then contact an Illinois residential real estate attorney. 

What Is a Short Sale? 

A short sale is when a homeowner sells their house for less than they owe on their mortgage. The biggest benefit of a short sale is that the homeowner has a better chance of selling the home before it is repossessed in a foreclosure by the mortgage lender. If someone makes an offer on the home, the mortgage lender has to decide whether to accept the offer. 

If a home is sold in a short sale, all of the proceeds go to the mortgage lender, who then decides whether to forgive the remaining balance or to try to get the homeowner to pay it. Certain programs, such as the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program, may be available to help people get into a more affordable housing option while getting the remainder of the balance on the original mortgage forgiven and a small cash payment to assist in relocating to a new home. 


The Possible Effects of Foreclosure

Posted on in Real Estate

Chicago foreclosure defense lawyerAs inflation continues to rise and the economy enters a period of unpredictable highs and lows, many people are left in the middle, trying to afford their family’s lifestyle and feeling as though the most basic things in their lives have become threatened. When it feels like you are at risk of losing your home because you cannot afford the mortgage payments, the serious potential consequences can make it hard to think straight. 

Foreclosure may be in your future, but it does not necessarily have to be the end of the world and you may, in fact, have other options that you are unaware of. At Whitacre & Stefanczuk LTD, we take your concerns seriously and work to communicate clearly with you so you can make wise decisions about your financial future. Our real estate attorneys are here to help and, if appropriate, we provide excellent foreclosure defense services for our clients. 

How Does Foreclosure Work? 

If you do get far enough behind in payments, your mortgage lender will eventually file a lawsuit that asks the court to give them permission to sell the house in a foreclosure sale. If you ignore the lawsuit, the judge typically will grant a default judgment, and your house can be sold. 


cook county real estate lawyerWhen people buy a home - especially when it is their first home - they are often so caught up in the excitement and joy of such an exciting experience that they rarely are on the lookout for scams that are specifically targeting unsuspecting Illinois homebuyers. Yet an entire industry of criminals exists who are thinking up ever more sophisticated ways of scamming people out of the money they worked hard to save so they could buy a home. If you are buying a home, especially for the first time, it is essential to understand some of the most common scams homebuyers face and how an Illinois real estate lawyer can help protect you from them. 

How Do Scammers Target Homebuyers? 

One of the most common ways that homebuyers suffer financial fraud is when a criminal poses as the client’s realtor by tracking the realtor’s email correspondence and seizing opportunities to send a homebuyer false information so earnest money or closing funds get wired to the scammer instead of the bank or the realtor. 

To avoid this, make sure you talk to a trusted person so you can get and give sensitive information while hearing their voice - not just over email - and get details about how to send any money very carefully. Usually, once money is wired, it is gone; if a scammer receives it, he or she will take it and disappear. Have an attorney review any financial transactions before you send them so you have a second pair of eyes checking these major transfers. 


cook county real estate lawyerFirst-time homebuyers are often filled with joy and relief at finally achieving a major part of the American dream. Unfortunately, owning a home also comes with its share of complications and difficulties, and one of these is dealing with property taxes. Illinois is notorious for having some of the most expensive property tax rates in the nation, although the exact rate depends on where you live and whether you have exemptions you qualify for. If you recently had your property taxes levied and you believe the amount is too, you may be able to appeal your taxes and pay less. 

What Are Property Taxes Based On?

In theory, property taxes match the value of your house, so the amount of property taxes you pay will depend on where you live and how much your house is worth. Real estate often increases in value year over year, especially if the owner puts work into improving the house. Certain owners and organizations are exempt or have deductions from property taxes, so it is important to do some research to determine whether you fall into this category. 

While the exact strategy of assessing property taxes varies by state and county, in Cook County, for example, an assessor determines the Fair Market Value of your home and then determines the assessed value, which is 10 percent of the fair market value. Then, the State Equalization Factor is applied to the assessed value to determine the Equalized Assessed Value and any exemptions are subtracted. The local tax rate is then applied to this number to determine the estimated tax bill. 


dupage county estate planning lawyerAs you begin the process of planning your estate, you may be worried about making sure you take the right steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. Unfortunately, mistakes are common during estate planning, especially when people do not have the help of an attorney. Before you take steps to protect your wishes in a will, trust, or other estate planning instrument, consult with an Illinois estate planning lawyer who can help you make sure you have all the information you need to set up a plan that meets your needs. Here are some common estate planning pitfalls to avoid. 

Not Discussing Your Estate Plan

Many people keep their estate plan a secret because they fear they will expose themselves to criticism, open up interpersonal conflict within their family, or because they are just afraid to bring up an unpleasant topic. But experts say it is better to have these sensitive conversations before someone is surprised by being designated as your beneficiary, executor, or power of attorney. You do not need to divulge all the details of your estate plan, but you can minimize confusion and provide clear direction by keeping all relevant parties informed.

Not Updating Your Estate Plan

The only constant in life is change, and this is never more true than when planning for how your estate will be managed. Divorce, death, new additions to the family, or family disagreements may necessitate updating your estate plan from time to time. Even if you are not sure whether you need to make any changes, regularly reviewing your estate plan will ensure it is still meeting your needs. 

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