Everything you should know about your Kane County Tax Bill

Everything you should know about your Kane County Tax Bill

When it comes to issues with local real estate, one of the hardest things for people to understand is the property tax billing process. In Illinois, our property tax bills are billed in arrears. For instance, if you owned property in the year 2016, you will be paying the real estate tax bill for 2016 in 2017. Whenever I am with my clients at the closing table, I understand this is one of the most confusing aspects of the transaction, and I make sure to explain and answer every question regarding the property taxes. When I am reviewing real estate closing statements prepared by other attorneys, the real estate tax proration is the biggest mistake I find. If you do not have an attorney who handles real estate transactions regularly, it can cost you. How does the county figure the value of your property? The Illinois state property tax code requires that your property-assessed value should be about one-third fair market value of the property (based on sales from the previous three years of surrounding properties). What can you do to lower your tax bill? There are a few exemptions that are available if the property is the principal residence of the owner. Available exemptions include: General Homestead Exemption, Senior Citizen Exemption, Senior Citizen Freeze, Home Improvement Exemption, Persons with Disabilities Exemption, Veterans with Disabilities Exemption, and Returning Veterans Exemption. Each exemption has its own qualifications so please visit KaneCountyAssessments.org/exemptions.htm for further information. Need a copy of your tax bill? Visit KaneCountyTreasurer.org How can you pay your tax bill? Most individuals have their tax payments rolled into their mortgage...
Top five reasons why your real estate appraisal could come in low.

Top five reasons why your real estate appraisal could come in low.

If you are in the process of buying a home, I am sure there are a lot of unanswered questions you have. One such question is: will the home appraise out? Everyone on both sides of the transaction wants the home to appraise out for what was offered on the contract, but what happens when it doesn’t appraise out? There are ways to deal with a low appraisal – but only if you know why it happened.   Below are the top five reasons why a home might not appraise out. There isn’t enough data on sales of similar homes in the neighborhood. If the home is in an area where the house might be one of a kind or has different features of other houses, the appraiser might have to have a larger search area to find similar houses that have sold in the last six months. If that is the case, the appraiser is comparing different neighborhoods as well, which could be a huge factor. Does the home have a large beautiful basement? Unfortunately, appraisers use much lower to value per square foot for space below ground. Although this might be a big selling point, in the eyes of the appraiser it could be different. A pool or professionally landscaping are attractive features, but they don’t lead to a much higher valuation on appraisals. Although these homes will have a slightly higher price tag than a home without those features, it won’t be worth what the actually cost of them to be put in is. Home prices in the area are increasing so quickly the comps are not...
Are you starting an LLC in Illinois?  Start here

Are you starting an LLC in Illinois? Start here

A Limited Liability Company or LLC is a business structure that is both easy and affordable to form in Illinois. There are specific steps and details that you must know when starting one: Decide on a name There are some naming requirements when choosing a name but the biggest factor is that the name must be recognizably different from the names of other business entities already on file with the state. If I form your LLC, an online search will determine if you can use the name that you are thinking of. Assign an agent Registered agents accept legal documents on behalf of the LLC and make sure its members are notified. An agent may be an individual who resides in Illinois, or a domestic or foreign corporation authorized to do business in Illinois. Get an EIN number If there are two or more members in your LLC, you will need to obtain an EIN from the IRS. Register with the Illinois Department of Revenue Create an Operating Agreement This is not a requirement but I would strongly argue for drafting one, especially if there is more than one member in the LLC. Annual Reports Each year you must report to the Secretary of State. The report is due each year prior to the first day of the LLC’s anniversary month (the month in which it was organized). If you would like legal advice on starting a Limited Liability Company in Illinois, please contact us. Also, if you have a trust, putting the LLC ownership interests in the name of the trust might be the best course of action...
Can your life insurance company take advantage of you?

Can your life insurance company take advantage of you?

Recently, I watched a 60-minute news story about how some of the largest life insurance companies don’t pay benefits even when they know the policyholder has died. Insurance companies claim that it is up to policyholders’ beneficiaries to contact the insurance company and to file a claim in order to collect whatever death benefit may be due them. But if beneficiaries are unaware of the policy, they don’t know to file a claim. Do you want to know another scary fact? The news reported that on some whole life insurance policies, even when the insurance company knew the client was dead, they still deducted the monthly premiums from the client’s account. So, what is the point of paying years of insurance premiums when your family may not collect the death benefit? This is just another example of why it pays to be organized with your estate planning. After I draft my clients’ estate plans, I encourage everyone to make a list of all accounts that are in their name and keep a copy with their estate planning documents. That way if something happens, the executor or trustee knows where to look and what companies to contact. For one reason or another, many people are afraid to tell their friends and family members exactly what their estate planning documents say. You really do not have to tell everyone everything. At a bare minimum, you should tell the person whom you have listed as trustee or executor of your estate where are your estate planning documents located and how they can access them. There is no point for you to spend...
FREE Financial & Estate Planning Retirement Workshop

FREE Financial & Estate Planning Retirement Workshop

I have partnered with Scott Sirens from Sierens Financial Group and we will be hosting two financial and estate planning retirement workshops on Monday, April 24th and Wednesday, April 26th.  The workshop will be a comprehensive two-hour presentation covering everything from financial planning in retirement through common estate planning techniques.  Please come out to this free event for an informative time. Reservations are required and please call us to reserve a spot at (847) 714-2866 or Sierens Financial at (847) 235-6989. Details are below but you may always contact us with any questions. Monday, April 24th 1pm-3pm Bartlett Community Center – Program Room #3 700 S. Bartlett Road Bartlett, IL  60103 Wednesday, April 26th 10am-12pm Park Place Family Recreation Center – West Meeting Room 550 S. Park Blvd. Streamwood, IL ...
Upcoming Retirement Workshops

Upcoming Retirement Workshops

Calling all retirees!!  I have partnered with Scott Sirens from Sierens Financial Group and will be speaking at two retirement workshops on Monday March 27th and Wednesday March 29th.  The workshop will be a comprehensive two hour presentation covering everything from financial planning in retirement through common estate planning techniques.  Please come out to this free event for an informative time.  Details are below but you may always contact us with any questions. Monday March 27, 2017 1pm-3pm Geneva History Museum 113 S. Third St Geneva, IL  60134 Wednesday March 29, 2017 10am-12pm(noon) Hickory Knolls Discovery Center 3795 Campton Hills Rd St. Charles, IL ...
What is an intentionally defective grantor trust?

What is an intentionally defective grantor trust?

An intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT) is a very interesting estate planning tool. It can be used to freeze certain assets for estate tax purposes, but not for income tax purposes. It is best used, for example, for a business that you own that is expected to greatly increase in value over the upcoming years and is a business that you plan to transfer to your heirs upon your death. The intentionally defective trust is created as a grantor trust that ensures that the individual continues to pay income taxes. There are many benefits of an intentionally defective grantor trust. Below are some highlighted key points to keep in mind: There is no tax on sale of stock to the trust The trust income is taxed to the grantor Transfer freezes asset value for estate tax purposes at time of transfer No tax to beneficiaries when grantor dies Transfer can be by gift or sale using lifetime exemption Sale is done with a note due in typically 10-15 years with interest just below 1% interest only loan with a balloon payment (income from interest is taxable) Sale does not realize any gain for the grantor To retain control of assets, your attorney must separate voting and non-voting stock Client retains 100% voting stock (1% of overall) and transfers the rest to the trust Children are the beneficiaries and become owners upon death There is no tax upon the transfer to children Grantor is not entitled to any trust distributions but does enjoy the interest from the “loan” for the “sale” of the stock to the trust Powers retained by...
If you are Divorced, update your Estate Plan today!

If you are Divorced, update your Estate Plan today!

In the aftermath of a divorce, updating your estate plan may not be at the forefront of your mind. You may still be distraught and emotionally and/or physically exhausted. However, many clients don’t realize what could result if they don’t update their current estate plan in the face of a divorce. In the event of a post-divorce unanticipated death, your assets could end up being distributed to your ex-spouse. Exactly what you don’t want to have happen. The first and most important step one should take to avoid this outcome is to revoke one’s current will or trust and write a new one that excludes your ex-spouse. Because most of us, when we are happy and in love leave everything to our spouses upon our deaths, in the event of a divorce, you will most likely want the result to be different. Once your divorce has been finalized, or even if you are in the process of a divorce, you need to update your estate plan as soon as possible to make the desired changes in light of the resulting divorce. You should also think about who you now want making your decisions for you in the event your physician deems you to be disabled or incapacitated for some reason. Your ex-spouse may no longer be the person who you want making your decisions for you, but is probably still listed as your decision maker for healthcare and/or financial decisions. Some people may still trust the ex-spouse to be making those decisions for them, however, that is the exception, not the rule. In my experience, most clients want the...
Estate planning billing, at Lauren Jackson Law

Estate planning billing, at Lauren Jackson Law

When clients come to me for Estate Planning, one of their biggest concerns is what is it going to cost? Most attorneys will be very vague about their billing processes and one of the more popular complaints from clients is when they get their bill and they are shocked by the total amount due. Here, we are committed to providing our clients with excellent service and benefits. One of our benefits that distinguish us from other law firms in the area, is our base rate billing. After we meet and have our initial consultation, I will tell you the total cost of what your estate plan will cost to be completed.  My clients love that there will be no surprises when the monthly bill comes. For the last two years since I have started this policy, my clients have loved this practice. When it comes to billing, nobody likes surprises. What goes into the price quote? Two meetings One initial consultation One meeting for explanation of all documents and document signing A third party witness and notary will be provided All telephone calls All email communications Any research needed All original signed copies of documents Plus all documents will be emailed to you in electronic PDF form Along with time involved and materials, you have to think about the real value value that you are getting from a properly executed Illinois estate plan. There is no point to pay money and draft an estate plan if it is not properly executed with the right witnesses, notarized signatures, and all necessary forms. I have seen and fixed many errors over...
Top Five Provisions to check before signing a Real Estate Contract!!!

Top Five Provisions to check before signing a Real Estate Contract!!!

When the time comes for you to sell your home it may seem like a very daunting process. If you are using a realtor, he or she should have the contract properly filled out before you sign anything (if you are not using a realtor, I can make sure the contract is filled out correctly for you). However, the contract is a 13 page document that you have never seen before and with which you are not familiar. What should you check before signing it? Below are the top five provisions you should review before signing your real estate contract: FIVE PROVISIONS TO CHECK BEFORE SIGNING A CONTRACT Purchase price Personal property to be transferred Real estate tax proration Plat of survey inspections Closing cost credits, if any If you review those five specific provisions and all five of them seem correct, you are safe to go ahead and sign the contract. If the seller accepts it by signing it, forward the fully signed contract to your real estate attorney as quickly as possible. There is a short time period during which your attorney can propose changes to any of the provisions that may be incorrect in the contract. This is called the attorney review period. Don’t worry if you feel this is too daunting a process to handle yourself, let us become the law firm that you know, like, and trust by handling it for you. Your time is just as important as mine, that is why all meetings are by appointment only at either one of my convenient office locations: 200 West Main Street, St. Charles, Illinois...