What Happens to an Unfunded Trust?

Web Admin - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

illinois unfunded trust lawyerPreparing estate planning documents is a key step in ensuring that a person’s final wishes are respected throughout the probate process, and a recent survey shows that the majority of Americans understand this fact. However, when setting up a trust, preparing the documents does not finish the process. If the person who sets up the trust fails to properly transfer their assets into it, it can become an underfunded or unfunded trust. This lack of proper funding can lead to a failure of a person’s estate plan, and also increases the potential for disputes throughout the process of probating the estate.

What an Unfunded Trust Is

A trust is a legal construction that involves a settlor, a trustee, and a beneficiary. The settlor creates the trust and transfers assets into it. The trustee manages the assets in the trust and they do so with the best interests of the beneficiary in mind. The drafting of the trust instrument is a key part of this process. That document will outline many of the legal rights and responsibilities of the trustee and the beneficiary, and it can provide instructions for the trustee to follow.

Many people think that once they draft the trust document, the process is complete and the trustee will be able to carry out their desires. This is not the case. The person will also need to legally transfer the assets to the trust. Without doing so, the trustee may not actually be able to control the assets and distribute them in accordance with the settlor’s instructions.

The Consequences of Improper Trust Funding

Improper trust funding can lead to disputes between heirs throughout the probate process. This is because if the settlor does not properly fund the trust the trustee has no legal authority to carry out the wishes of the settlor. Instead, the assets would pass through any will that the settlor left behind, or they may pass through right of survivorship, the default way that courts distribute assets. This means that the beneficiaries of the trust may end up in a legal battle with the heirs listed in the will over their rights to the assets.

Additionally, even if the settlor did not leave a will and there are no disputes, the assets will still need to go through the state probate process to be distributed. This can lengthen the amount of time it takes to wind down a person’s affairs and tends to be a less convenient process than if the trust had been properly funded.

If you are thinking about how best to carry out your final wishes, seek out an Illinois estate planning attorney for help. Our skilled team of lawyers helps clients in northwest suburban towns like Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, and Schaumburg understand their estate planning options and create the best plan for themselves.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.

A Beginner’s Guide to Applying for a Mortgage Loan

Web Admin - Thursday, February 20, 2014

illinois mortgage loan lawyerFor many first-time home buyers, the process of applying for a mortgage can seem complex. This guide will explain the basics of the process, such as the timeline for applying for a mortgage, the documents that applicants should procure and bring, and the credit score and down payment that applicants should expect.

The Mortgage Timeline

The mortgage process begins with a pre-approval application. The purpose of the preapproval process is to let the bank or lender look into the applicant’s finances, in order to make sure that they can afford a loan. This is when banks ask for most of the documentation. Often they want things such as:

- a list of addresses and landlords;
- a list of previous employers;
- pay-stubs from the previous one or two months, with a person’s year-to-date earnings included as well;
- the last two year’s W-2 forms;
- two months of bank statements for all accounts;
- a list of all debts not on the applicant’s credit report; and
- a list of all other real estate that the applicant already owns.

If the applicant has already found a house that they like, and their offer has been accepted, then the bank will also want the seller’s contact information and a copy of the contract. Being ready to provide these documents can help speed up the mortgage process.

Once a person goes through the pre-approval process and has made an offer on a house, the bank will order an appraisal on it. The appraiser will go through the house and determine the value, and then the bank will take their assessment into account when calculating how large a loan they can offer. Generally speaking, the bank will base their offer on either the appraisal value or the purchase price, depending on which is lower.

After the appraisal, the loan underwriter will look at all the documentation to make sure the loan is a good investment for the bank. From start to finish, the whole process usually takes about four to six weeks on the bank’s end, but timelines may vary, and asking the lender in the beginning may be a good idea.

Credit Scores and Down Payments

In addition to the array of documentation, lenders will also expect borrowers to have good credit scores and money available to make a down payment on the house. The rule of thumb for a conventional loan, according to U.S. News, is that a borrower would need a credit score of at least 650. Conventional loans also require, on average, a down payment of around 20 percent. Borrowers may have an alternative in the Fair Housing Act loan, which is a loan insured by the federal government. These loans offer a 3.5 percent down payment with a 580 credit score, and a 10 percent down payment with a 500 credit score.

If you are going through the process of buying a home, contact an Illinois real estate attorney today. Our team serves people in many northwest suburban areas including Inverness, Barrington and Long Grove.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.

Buying a Home in Illinois: Inspection Contingencies in the Contract

Web Admin - Monday, November 18, 2013

A considerable amount of paperwork is involved when buying a home. To begin the process, buyers sign a detailed contract with the sellers which essentially takes the home off the market while other details--including securing financing, appraisals, and inspections--are finalized.

Two particularly important contracts often used in Illinois are the Multi-Board Residential Real Estate Contract (“Multi-Board”), which has now been released in its fifth version and the Chicago Realtors Contract.  These documents get signed by both the buyer and seller, and represent an agreement between them that the buyer will indeed buy the house, and that the seller will sell it for the agreed upon price. However, the contracts also contain sections called “contingencies,” which represent certain things that either must happen, or cannot happen, for the sale to go through.

For example, a critical contingency that the Multi-Board calls for is the Professional Inspections and Inspection Notices section. This contingency allows for the buyer to conduct, at their expense, different types of inspections of the house that they just agreed to purchase. Under the Multi-Board, a buyer may conduct, “home, radon, environmental, lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards, and/or wood destroying insect infestation” inspections.

While most of the names of those inspections provide a good idea of what the inspector will examine, “home” inspections are more general. It is intended and written in the Multi Board that the home inspector goes in to examine the state of the MAJOR components house. The contract  gives some examples of what constitutes a major component:

• Heating and air conditioning

• Plumbing and well systems

• Electrical systems

• Roofs, walls, windows, ceilings, and floors

• Appliances

• Foundation

If the buyer and the seller cannot reach an agreement about how to handle the results of the inspection by ten business days after they signed the contract, then either party may cancel the contract. This makes the inspector’s job particularly important, since it requires someone who can distinguish important issues from minor or cosmetic ones. Since the real estate market changed from an ultra hot Sellers market in the early 2000s to a cold Buyers market the tenor of the home inspection issues has changed significantly. More and more deals are getting terminated over minor inspection issues. The drafters of these two Contracts specifically drafted them to avoid this decision. Often times these issues are being raised as the parties are getting bad advice from the realtor and/or the attorney involved.

But not all defects or problems may automatically allow a buyer to get out of purchasing the home. For example, under the inspection contingency in the Chicago Realtors Contract, “the Buyer agrees that minor repairs and maintenance costing less than $250 shall not constitute defects covered” by the portion of the agreement which allow a buyer to terminate the contract. In other words, squabbles over minor issues which could be solved for little money are rarely should be enough to tank the deal. Many prolonged legal disputes hinge on the exact question of whether a defect is sufficient to allow a buyer to refuse to purchase the home. This is the point when the professionals involved should provide the appropriate guidance to the Buyer(s) regarding what is acceptable to raise under the contract terms and what is not acceptable to raise.

The easy thing for the Realtor and/or attorneys involved to do is to blame the home inspector.  However, the home inspection company has a contract with the client setting forth their obligation to inspect the property in a certain manner regardless what the home inspection contingency states. It is the responsibility of the Realtor and attorney involved to translate the inspection report into the home inspection contingency limitations and set the Buyers expectations on what the Seller should reasonably be asked to repair.

Of course, home inspections represent just one of the many legal complexities surrounding the process of buying or selling a home. If you are considering going through that process, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows real estate attorney today. Our team can help you navigate the process from start to finish. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and other nearby communities.

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