Q. What do I need to bring to my first estate planning appointment?
A. Attorney Chris Cummings recommends you bring the following items to your first estate planning appointment:
Q. What happens at my first estate planning appointment?
A. At your first appointment, we will review your personal and family situation, as well as your goals and concerns. After reviewing the financial and personal information that you have provided, we will recommend options to best address your concerns, protect your family and fulfill your goals.
Q. How long does it take to complete?
A. At your initial appointment, we normally schedule a second appointment to review and sign your documents. While we like to allow enough time for you to review your draft documents prior to your second appointment, we usually can prepare everything within 48 hours if required.
Q. Someone has died and I have been named his/her executor or successor trustee. What do I need to bring to my first appointment?
A. Attorney Chris Cummings recommends that you bring the following documents to your first appointment:
The original will, trust, or other estate planning document signed by the person who died, if they had one.
The death certificate, if available.
Copies of the person’s most recent tax returns, if you can find them.
Copies of the most recent statements that you can find for bank accounts, certificates of deposit, investment accounts and retirement accounts (401k, IRA, etc.).
If the person owned a home, a copy of the most recent deed that you can find.
Copies of any recent credit card bills, doctor bills or other debts that the person owed when they died.
Addresses and contact information for everyone listed in the will, trust or similar document. If the person did not have a will or trust, we will need the names, addresses and contact information for their immediate family members.
Q. I just sold my house or condominium. What do I do now?
A. Ask your real estate agent to e-mail or fax the signed contract to our office for review. Our fax numbers are 866-645-4219 and 708-799-7613. Contracts can be e-mailed to Chris@CJCummingsLaw.com. Most contracts provide a limited time for attorney review. The attorney review period starts when you sign the contract and both buyer and seller have agreed on the terms.
Anything permanently attached to the house usually is sold with the house. If you intend to take anything that is permanently attached (light fixtures, ceiling fans, etc.) make sure this is noted in the contract. Let our office know immediately if you must close by a certain date or if you have signed a contract to purchase another residence. Closing dates often change, so it is best to be as flexible as possible.
Most contracts allow the buyer a limited time to have your home professionally inspected. We recommend that you be present during the inspection.
If you have a mortgage, provide our staff with the name of your lender, your account number, contact information and your loan balance. Even though you are going to sell your home, we recommend that you continue to make your mortgage payments until the closing is completed. The remaining balance will be deducted from your sale proceeds. Provide our office with copies of the deed, title policy or similar documents that you received when you purchased the property.
Do not cancel your homeowners insurance until the closing is completed and you have given possession of the property to the buyer. Request final readings from all utility companies when you are giving possession to the buyer.
Provide our office with an address where you can be reached after the sale. Let our office know immediately if you receive notice of any building, zoning or property maintenance violations from the municipality. If your municipality requires an inspection prior to sale, make sure this is completed well before the closing date so you can make any required repairs. Local towns with this requirement include: Chicago Heights, Glenwood, Harvey, Hazel Crest and Country Club Hills. If you are not sure whether your town requires an inspection, contact our office to confirm.
The buyers have a right to walk through the property before closing. Your obligation is to have the house in the same condition at closing as when the contract was signed. Make sure the appliances still work, the toilets still flush and the lights still come on. Put the window screens back in, replace burnt out bulbs and take out the trash. This is the buyer’s last opportunity to raise any issues about the condition of your house. The better condition your house is in, the easier the walk through – and the closing – will be.
On the date you are giving possession (usually the closing date) the house must be cleared of everything other that the appliances and fixtures that are listed in the contract. If you are unsure what you must leave and what must be out, contact our office for clarification. Leave the house as you would like to find it.
Q. I just signed a contract to buy a house or condominium. What do I do now?
A. Ask your real estate agent to e-mail or fax the signed contract to our office for review. Our fax numbers are 866-645-4219 and 708-799-7613. Contracts can be e-mailed to Chris@CJCummingsLaw.com. Most contracts provide a limited period for attorney review. The attorney review period starts when the seller signs the contract and both buyer and seller have agreed on the terms.
Let our office know immediately if you must close by a certain date, if your home is currently for sale or if you already have signed a contract to sell. Closing dates listed in the contract often change, so it is best to be as flexible as possible.
Most contracts allow the buyer a limited period to have the home professionally inspected. Schedule the inspection immediately after the seller accepts your offer. We recommend that you accompany the inspector. Ask questions and familiarize yourself with the property. Request that the inspector forward a copy of the report to our office. All repair requests must be made within the inspection contingency period, so be sure to contact our office if the inspector points out problems that you want the seller to repair.
Unless you are paying cash, apply for your mortgage immediately and promptly provide all required information to your loan processor. Notify our office of the lender’s name, the amount of your loan, and the name and contact information for the representative processing your application. If you locked in your interest rate when you applied for the loan, ask when the lock expires. If you close after the lock expires, your lender doesn’t have to offer you the rate you applied for.
Most contracts allow you time to obtain financing. If you are cannot obtain a loan, most contracts allow for your earnest money to be refunded as long as you notify the seller before the finance contingency deadline. Carefully note this deadline in your real estate contract. If the deadline is approaching and your lender has not given you a written mortgage commitment, contact our office so that we can request an extension of the finance contingency. If the finance contingency deadline expires and you cannot get a loan, you may forfeit your earnest money.
You are not approved for your loan until you receive a written mortgage commitment. Pre-approvals do not count. Phone calls do not count. You do not have a loan until you receive a written mortgage commitment that specifies the loan amount and the address of the property you are buying. If you do receive a written mortgage commitment, notify our office immediately and provide us with a copy. Make sure that you comply any conditions listed on the commitment.
Apply for homeowners insurance well before closing. If you are buying a house, your lender will require that you pay the premium for the coming year before the closing.
You have a right to walk through the property before closing. We highly recommend that you do so. This usually takes place 24- 48 hours before closing. The seller must deliver the house to you in the same condition it was in when you signed the contract. Make sure the appliances still work, the toilets still flush and the lights still come on. If the house has seasonal equipment such as storm doors or screens, make sure you know where it is. If the house is not cleared of everything other than the appliances and fixtures listed in the contract, notify our office before the closing. This is your last opportunity to raise any issues about the condition of your new home. If you find something wrong after closing, it will normally become your responsibility, not the seller’s.
Contact our office 24 hours prior to closing to find out how the final amount you must bring. If you are married, both husband and wife should attend the closing, even if only one spouse is taking out the mortgage. Lenders often require that both spouses sign several loan documents even if the loan is in only one spouse's name. Everyone attending the closing must have a drivers license or other government issued identification with a photograph.
If you are receiving possession at closing, make sure you have (or know where to find) all the door keys, mailbox keys, garage door openers, security system codes, storage locker keys, etc. before leaving the closing table. If you are receiving possession after closing, make sure you have (or know where to find) all the door keys, mailbox keys, garage door openers, security system codes, storage locker keys, etc. before authorizing release of the possession escrow.