The Evans Williams Law Group's Response to COVID-19

Updated May 17, 2022, 6:00 PM CST

The Evans Williams Law Group is dedicated to keeping the community safe in accordance with the state and federal recommendations for social distancing. As such, we have made the following list that we hope will address any questions or concerns you may have:

1. Our office is open. Masks are required inside the office at all times.

2. We ask that you do not stop by the office unless you need to drop off documents that you do not have the capability to fax or email. In this case, please use our mail drop box on our door instead of coming into the office for face-to-face contact. We will also be getting mail through the post office if you need to send anything to us.

3. It is our preference to conduct consultations by teleconference or videoconference. However, we will accommodate in-person consultations. Clients will be limited to two people to comply with social distancing guidelines. Each person must wear a mask.

4. Appointments to execute estate planning documents (or deeds) shall be held in the office. Clients will be limited to two people to comply with social distancing guidelines. Each person must wear a mask. Appointments to videoconference the execution of documents will be held on a case-by-case basis.

5. Cook, Will, Lake, Kendall, and Kane County Cases. Most cases continue to be heard via Zoom. This is an evolving process. All cases can be filed. You do not need to attend court unless specifically instructed to do so. We will continue to inform you as soon as we have updated information for you. 

6. We continue to have real estate closings at this time.

7. During this time of uncertainty, we ask you to think about your own preparedness for the unexpected. Now may be a good time to consider implementing an estate plan if you haven’t already.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office. Remember, be cautious, but don't act out of fear. Stay safe, everyone!

REAL ESTATE

Many people wonder why they need a real estate attorney in Illinois. Let me briefly describe what we do in real estate transactions so that you can understand why you need a real estate attorney.

For the real estate purchaser, we review the Real Estate Sales Contract, the Title Report and other documents submitted by the seller used to the transfer of the property. We modify the terms of the contract to your benefit if possible and maintain deadlines. We review the closing statement, lender documents, and other related financial documents. We stay involved with the lender if you have one, determine compliance with all agreements between the parties, and ensure that all financial aspects of the purchase are reconciled at the time of closing. Finally, we attend the closing and review all of the documents with the purchaser.

For the real estate seller, we review the Seller’s Residential Disclosure Statement, the Lead Paint Disclosure Report, and the Real Estate Contract. Then we modify the terms of the contract if possible and maintain deadlines. We also prepare the seller’s closing documents, order the title insurance commitment, assist the seller in clearing the title, order the survey and mortgage payoff letter from the lender, and prepare the closing statement. Finally, we schedule and attend the closing, and review the documents with the seller, if the seller chooses to attend. We can save the seller a trip and attend the closing without the seller.

As you can tell, you need a real estate attorney in Illinois because there are many contract terms, deadlines, documents, and negotiations that should be addressed by a real estate professional, during your real estate transaction. Please call The Evans Williams Law Group to discuss how we can help you with your real estate needs.

EVICTION

Let me tell you a little bit about the eviction process in Illinois. First, the landlord must serve the tenant with a 5 day, 10 day, or 30 day notice. A 5 day notice is for non-payment of rent, 10 day notice is to cure violations, and the 30 day notice is to give the tenant notice that they must leave at the end of the 30 day period.

If the tenant doesn’t pay the amount due, cure the violations, or the time to leave has expired, a lawsuit in forcible entry and detainer may be filed with the Circuit Court. The landlord must provide for service of process on the tenant and all unknown occupants.

Service of process must first be attempted by the sheriff. In the event the Sheriff fails to obtain service on the tenant(s), the next step is to hire a “special process server”. In the event the sheriff couldn’t serve the tenant, and the special process server is not successful, the landlord must make a diligent attempt to locate the tenant. If they fail, the landlord can opt for service by an alternate means known as the Sheriff’s Posting Notice. Service by posting only affords the landlord to obtain an order for possession of the property but not a money judgment against the tenant.

On the court date, the tenant must stand ready for trial, or may be given a continuance to obtain counsel. The eviction hearing can be complicated, but once a landlord obtains an order for possession against a tenant and the tenant remains in the property past the date possession is to be turned over, the landlord may bring the order to the Sheriff who will then remove the tenant from the property. The landlord should be present.

The cost to evict and the process to evict can be surprising. You want to be sure that you are doing it right. If you require eviction assistance, call The Evans Williams Law Group to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.

ESTATE PLANNING

Estate planning is the process to plan for certain death and the possibility of mental incapacity. There are many tools that can be used to develop your estate plan. I will very briefly describe six of them.

First, is the Transfer on Death Deed. This deed allows the property owner to designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries, who will receive the property upon the death of the owner.

Second, is the Testamentary Will. It allows the person who drafted the will to transfer their estate upon their death, select an Executor, and appoint a Guardian for minor children.

Third, is a Land Trust. The land trust company serves as trustee to hold the recorded title to real estate while you retain all rights of ownership as the beneficiary. Although there are annual fees with the land trust, when you pass away, you seamlessly transfer ownership to the person or people you name as successor beneficiaries, without having your estate go through probate.

The fourth estate planning tool is a Revocable Living Trust. This trust is like a land trust, but you are your own trustee, there are no annual fees, it’s more flexible, and it can hold real estate and personal property. You can name your trust as the beneficiary on investments, bank accounts and life insurance policies so that you can dictate when the beneficiary receives the money, and the purposes for which the money can be used.

Unlike the first four tools I just talked about that transfer property upon your death, the fifth tool is to be used while you are alive. This tool is called a Power of Attorney for Health Care. It allows you to designate someone to make medical decisions for you should you be unable to make them yourself. It also allows you to dictate your life sustaining treatment wishes.

The sixth tool, just like the fifth, is to be used while you are alive. It is called a Property Power of Attorney. It allows you to designate someone to make important business decisions on your behalf, like communicating with your bank, the social security administration and other agencies, and creditors.

If you have people or organizations in your life that you care about, have worked hard for what you have and want it distributed per your instruction, and you desire to leave a legacy and help your loved ones avoid drama, call The Evans Williams Law Group to schedule a consultation to discuss your estate plan.

DIVORCE

Divorce in Illinois is complex. The considerations include:

Whether to get a divorce, where the minor children should live, if any, and the associated parenting plan, how much child support should be paid, how much college contribution should be paid and how it is should be allocated, how property should be divided, who should pay certain debts, and whether maintenance should be paid.

A divorce can be uncontested or contested. An uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree on all of these issues. If that is the case, a Marital Settlement agreement can be drafted, attached to the Judgment for Dissolution. If they have children, the parties must attend a mandatory parenting class, and then the divorce can be entered. On the other hand, a contested divorce is when the spouses do not agree on any one of the considerations previously mentioned. If that is the case, a potentially long and costly divorce process begins.

If the parties have children, they will be ordered to attend the mandatory parenting class. In addition, if they can’t agree on the child related issues, the court will order the parties to attend mediation to try to develop a parenting plan. If they can’t agree on a parenting plan, a Guardian Ad Litem or Child Representative is appointed to help the judge determine what is in the best of the children.

Divorcing spouses will also have to participate in the discovery process. Discovery is when the assets and liabilities of the parties are identified.

After discovery, we try to settle the matter. If the parties don’t agree to a settlement, hearings on interim issues occur. Interim hearings can happen on matters like child support, parenting time, maintenance, and anything else that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

After the interim hearings, the court may set a pretrial. A pretrial is when the court reviews the desires of the parties and recommends a way to settle the case. If the parties agree with the settlement, the settlement agreement is drafted, attached to the judgment, and the parties can be divorced. If not, a trial is scheduled.

There is no way to know exactly how long it will take to get a divorce. The length of time depends on many things. If both spouses can agree on how to settle issues in the divorce case, the process will be shorter. If not, the divorce process will take much longer.

I can tell you that divorce law can be one of the most confusing, stressful, and costly areas of the law; you should choose your representation wisely. I am a family law mediator, collaborative law attorney, litigator and I practice transactional law. My attorneys and I have the ability and temperament to navigate you through the changing face of divorce law, and we will work with you to educate you on the law, inform you of the process involved, and explain your options. If you need assistance with your divorce matter, call The Evans Williams Law Group to schedule a consultation.

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