Considerations for Owning a Vacation Home

Web Admin - Monday, August 31, 2015

Illinois real estate lawyerWhen owning a vacation home, there are several issues that need to be considered, including estate planning, how the property will be owned, and potential tax implications. If you plan on purchasing a vacation home with a friend or a family member, deciding how the property will be owned is important. Ordinarily, this type of ownership is what is known as tenancy in common. Under a tenancy in common ownership, each owner is named on the deed, along with each owner’s respective ownership percentage.

An alternative is for all of the prospective owners to form a limited liability company (LLC) and have it purchase and own the home. While this does create the additional task of forming the LLC, the individual assets of each member of the LLC are protected. A disadvantage is that the individuals of the LLC cannot claim property tax or mortgage interest deductions.

Tax Issues

The capital gains tax applies to the portion of the proceeds (upon the sale of a home) that exceeds the purchase price of the property plus the cost of any improvements made. For most taxpayers, the tax rate for long-term capital gains is 15 percent. An important provision of the tax code is the primary residence exclusion to the capital gains tax. This exclusion allows for married couples to exclude up to $500,000 ($250,000 for single owners) in capital gains for the sale of a principal residence.

Critically, the home must have been the principal residence (where you and your spouse live) for two of the last five years. This period does not need to be consecutively; rather, the home must have been the principal residence for a total of 24 months out of the last five years. The primary residence exclusion can be used multiple times, but cannot be used more than once every two years.

In relation to vacation homes, ordinarily the primary residence exclusion cannot be used (as a vacation home is normally not the principal residence). However, if the vacation home is established as the principal residence (by satisfying the two out of the past five year rule), the exclusion can be used. This may be very beneficial if a vacation home significantly increased in value.  

Passing Home to Heirs

Often, owners of vacation homes desire to keep those homes within the family. As a result, this requires planning for how the home will be passed down. There are numerous different methods of leaving property to a beneficiary. Each of those methods has different advantages and disadvantages. It is important to keep in mind that the following only briefly describes just three of the methods for passing on property. For more detailed information about estate planning, you should speak with an attorney.

For example, property can be passed to children or other heirs upon the owner’s death. This creates a step-up in basis for the beneficiary, which is a large advantage should the beneficiary sell the property. It also allows for the owner to retain complete control until death. However, it is not a tax-friendly option for the owner.

Alternatively, an owner can give the property as an outright gift. Under this method, the owner transfers the property by deed to the beneficiary. This accomplishes an immediate transfer of ownership. However, the federal gift tax limits the amount that can be transferred. Additionally, the step-up in basis is lost.

Finally, one option that is becoming more popular is to place the property into a trust for named beneficiaries. Under this plan, the owner reserves the right to use the property for a specified period of time. After the trust term expires, the beneficiaries take ownership of the property, with significantly reduced, or eliminated, federal and state taxes. Critically, for this method to work, the person who formed the trust must out-live the trust term.

For more information about the ownership of a vacation home, reach out to an experienced Illinois real estate attorney today. Our firm proudly represents individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, including the communities of Inverness, South Barrington, Arlington Heights, Long Grove, Mount Prospect, Riverwoods, Schaumburg, and Kenilworth.

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.

Remedies for Condominium Unpaid Assessments and Fines

Web Admin - Friday, August 07, 2015

Illinois vacation home fines, real estate attorneyA condominium or townhome association has the ability to assess unit owners with common expenses and fines (collectively, “assessments”). When unit owners fail to pay these assessments when they become due, the association can pursue legal action to enforce payment. These actions can result in significant consequences against unit owners, including the potential for eviction.

Foreclosure and Eviction

One option for an association is to place a lien on the unit, which often occurs automatically when an assessment is not paid. If the past due assessment is still not paid, the lien may be foreclosed on in court. This will result in a court-ordered sale of the owner’s equity in the unit. Further, foreclosure is possible regardless of whether the unit owner is current on all mortgage payments.

Under Illinois law, it is also possible to evict a unit owner or tenant who is delinquent on the payment of any assessments. To initiate this process, the association must serve on the unit owner, through the mail, a 30 Day Notice and Demand for Possession (demand, with return receipt requested. If the demand is properly mailed, effective notice is deemed to have occurred, which means that the demand does not actually have to be received by the unit owner.

The effect of the demand is that a unit owner has 30 days to pay the outstanding amount. If the unit owner fails to make this payment, an association can sue to evict the owner from the unit through a forcible entry and detainer action. Included in the lawsuit will be a claim for all unpaid assessments and reasonable attorney fees and costs.

In some circumstances, partial payment may resolve the issue because an association can agree to withdraw the demand in exchange for partial payment. However, if the association does not agree to withdraw the demand, partial payment does not affect the eviction or demand. If after 30 days the partial payments do not total the entire amount due, the association can proceed with the forcible entry and detainer action.

If successful, the court will enter a judgment evicting the tenant or homeowner. However, by law, any enforcement of the eviction judgment must be stayed for at least 60 days, but not more than 180 days, at the discretion of the court.

After the eviction is complete, the association can lease the unit for a period of up to 13 months (which may be extended by court order) until all unpaid assessments have been paid. After all of these have been paid, the unit owner can regain possession of the unit by filing a motion with the court to vacate the judgment of possession.

Help with Real Estate Legal Issues

If you would like more information about real estate transactions or how disputes related to real estate are resolved, speak with a skilled Illinois real estate attorney today. Our firm provides diligent representation for individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, in communities such as Mount Prospect, Inverness, Palatine, Long Grove, and Riverwoods.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association. 

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