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October 15, 2017

Why You Need a Real Estate Lawyer

Why You Need a Real Estate LawyerToday, O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet discusses why you need a real estate lawyer. We know that buying a home is one of life’s most significant purchases, involving a lot of paperwork and various legal issues. Even as a seller, it’s not as easy as finding a buyer and collecting a check. Everything must be handled systematically, contracts need to be read and understood, and if anything goes awry, both buyers and sellers need legal protection.

Let’s break down why you need a real estate lawyer even further…

Purchasing a Home

For the majority of home purchases, a seller contracts with a real estate agent, usually in writing. This contract is called a brokerage contract. When the agent (also referred to as the broker) locates a buyer, any negotiations that need to take place are done through the broker because the broker is responsible for acting as an intermediary between the two parties, the buyer and seller.

Once the parties have reached an informal agreement on an offer, a formal written contract is drawn up and signed. The buyer must then pay or obtain financing if they don’t have it already. A title search, inspection, and appraisal are performed. Eventually, the buyer takes possession of the property and the seller receives the agreed upon amount of money.

Like any purchase, there can be issues. For example, some houses, like cars, can turn out to be lemons. This is when and why you need a real estate lawyer.

Unclear Terms

A real estate lawyer will help you avoid problematic terms in the sale of your home. Some of these problems begin with the brokerage agreements. Many real estate agents use standard forms. These forms can lead to problems. For example, if there is no agreement to the contrary, the seller may have to pay a brokerage commission, even if the property doesn’t sell. Also, the seller can end up paying more than one commission.

Using a residential real estate attorney can help ensure that particular options are available to you as either the buyer or the seller. A real estate lawyer can ensure that a seller or buyer has the right to negotiate on his or her behalf. Lawyers can also help if there are issues and the seller needs to withdraw from the contract.

There are a number of laws and issues that a real estate lawyer can prevent and they can help prepare buyers and sellers. Real estate lawyers also ensure that their clients are better aware of what their contracts mean and whether it is really in their best interest to sign. If you need a real estate lawyer, contact us here at O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet.

Consultations

Even if one not necessary during negotiations, the buyer or seller may want to consult with a real estate lawyer regarding the tax consequences of the sale. Income tax for the seller, in particular, can be substantial. A great reason why you need a real estate lawyer prior to the sale is to learn about and take advantage of various tax provisions to lessen the impact.

Purchase Agreement

The single most important document in a property sale is the purchase agreement. Using a real estate lawyer to step through the purchase agreement for the sale can help offer an opportunity to tailor the agreement to better address the needs of the parties involved.

Here are some common examples of things a real estate lawyer can help determine:

Title Search

Once a purchase agreement is signed, it is appropriate to determine the title for the property. It is important that both the buyer and the financial institution offering to finance are satisfied with the results of the title search. It is also important to ensure that the legal description is accurate and that there are no issues with prior or adjoining owners.

Review of the title and ensuring the accuracy of the legal description can be confusing which is why you need a real estate lawyer. They can help determine if there are any exceptions to the title or whether there are potential problems.

Zoning

A real estate lawyer can also ensure that you are aware of any zoning issues. The title search does not include any zoning information. If there are future plans for improvement, the real estate lawyer can help determine whether any zoning ordinances would be violated.

Closing

Even the finish line can be problematic. All closing papers must be prepared, as well as the sale transaction. A real estate lawyer can help a buyer or seller with all of the closing paperwork and ensure that everything is appropriate and properly executed.

It is also helpful to have a real estate lawyer present just in case any last minute disputes arise. If other parties involved have a lawyer present and you are without one, your interests could be unprotected.

As you can see, there are many reasons why you need a real estate lawyer, so make sure your interests are protected during one of biggest events in your life. At O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet, we want to make sure that the buying or selling of your home is a positive experience. Let us guide you through the process and provide peace of mind.

September 15, 2017

What is a Personal Injury Case Worth?

What is a Personal Injury Case WorthAt O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet, our clients often ask what is a personal injury case worth? In calculating what your case may be worth, there is a great deal that must be considered in damages: what have your injuries actually cost, both physically and mentally. Damages should also consider if the defendant needs to pay enough that the payment is a form of punishment, particularly in cases where such an injury or accident may occur again or is egregious in nature.

In personal injury cases, the plaintiff is the injured person. Money damages are generally paid by the person or company (the defendant and/or their insurer) who is legally responsible for the accident or injury. Damages can be settled out of court by negotiating a settlement. Such negotiations can involve the parties, their attorneys, and the insurance companies, for example. If a negotiation is not reached or agreed to by all parties, the case may go to trial where a jury or a judge may award damages.

Personal Injury Cases and Compensatory Damages

When it comes to what is a personal injury case worth, most of the damages are considered to be compensatory. This means that the award is supposed to compensate for whatever was lost during the injury or accident. Compensatory damages are intended to use money to make the injured party “whole” from a monetary standpoint. A dollar figure is intended to match the damage from the accident or injury. This can be straightforward for some compensatory damages.

For example, the cost of medical bills or property damage can be fairly easy to calculate. Other damages, such as pain and suffering, can be much more difficult to quantify. For example, if a plaintiff can no longer enjoy participating in his favorite hobby as a result of injury, finding a monetary amount to compensate can be more difficult.

Types of Compensatory Damages

There are different kinds of compensatory damages that are frequently involved in personal injury cases which can make it difficult to determine what is a personal injury case worth. Here are some of the more common types of damages that are awarded these types of cases.

Medical Treatment: Personal injury awards almost always cover the cost of medical treatment and care associated with the injury or accident. Medical treatment covers the treatment you have already received, as well as the estimated cost of all medical care and treatment expected or needed in the future as a result of your injury or accident.

Income: The accident or injury may have affected your ability to make money in the future and this loss can be calculated in the total compensatory damages. This is called compensation for a loss of earning capacity. Additionally, the loss of wages and salary that already occurred as a result of the accident or injury should be included.

Property Loss: Physical property that was damaged or destroyed as a result of the accident should be included in your compensatory damages. You should be able to be included the fair market value of the property that was damaged or destroyed.

Pain and Suffering: The physical discomfort caused by the accident or injury, as well as emotional stress that continues as a result of the accident, are all considered to be a part of pain and suffering. This component also takes likely future pain and suffering into account when determining the award and the defendant’s negligence.

Emotional Distress: This type of punitive damage is often involved in more severe accidents or injuries. This is intended to compensate for anxiety, fear, sleep loss or other emotional impacts that have occurred as a result of the accident. Emotional distress may be a part of pain and suffering in some states. Additionally, emotional distress can also include depression, anger, loss of appetite, mood swings, lack of energy, and sexual dysfunction.

Loss of Enjoyment: If you can no longer enjoy day-to-day activities such as exercise, hobbies, and other pursuits, you may be entitled to this type of personal injury award.

Loss of Consortium: Often this type of personal injury award is awarded because the injury or accident has impacted the plaintiff’s relationships, often the plaintiff’s spouse. Sometimes there is a loss of companionship or the couple’s sexual relationship has been altered. Sometimes “loss of consortium” in some states considers family members separately, so these damages can be awarded to family members that are affected not necessarily the injured party.

Damages Can Be Affected by Plaintiff

Plaintiffs in personal injury cases need to be aware that their role in the accident or possible inaction following injury can reduce the amount of damages awarded, and affect what is a personal injury case worth.

Comparative Negligence: If you were even partially responsible for your accident or injury, it is likely that your damage award will be lower as a reflection of your role. Usually, this is because many states have a standard for “comparative negligence” that looks at a plaintiff’s degree of fault in personal injury award decisions.

Contributory Negligence: There are a few states that use contributory negligence in personal injury lawsuits. Contributory negligence means that if you are even partially to blame for an accident, you may not be entitled to any compensation at all.

Failure to Mitigate Damages: Many states expect that a plaintiff will take reasonable steps to minimize the harm caused by an accident. For example, if a plaintiff fails to seek medical attention and this failure causes their injury to be worse, the award for damages may be significantly less. So if you have been injured in an accident, it will be important to make sure that you are receiving appropriate medical treatment both so that you take care of your health, but also to protect your ability to receive damages.

If you have been injured in an accident and are considering pursuing a personal injury case, contact us at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet to discuss what is a personal injury case worth. We can help you determine whether to pursue legal action and help you determine how much of an award we can help you pursue.

 


Blogs and articles by O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC are for educational purposes only and to give you a general understanding of the law, not to provide any legal advice or be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed, professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction.

Use all blogs and articles at your own risk. The information presented may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. These materials may be changed, improved, or updated without notice. O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the content of this site or for damages arising from the use or performance of this site under any circumstances.

By reading our blog and articles you also understand that there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC.

August 16, 2017

Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Illinois?

Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer in IllinoisDo you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois? While self-representation is an option, we at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet do not recommend it. In fact, the overwhelming majority of defendants in criminal cases choose to be represented by a lawyer, particularly if there is a possibility of jail or prison. While it can be difficult to obtain good statistics, experts estimate that less than 1% of defendants choose self-representation and there are a number of important reasons why.

Legal Inexperience

While it may be tempting for a person to defend his or herself, self-representation can have severe drawbacks. Though law books contain a great deal of information, there is a lot to be gained from the actual time spent defending people in various cases and situations. Building a solid criminal defense comes from a comprehensive understanding of the written law, as well as the realities and actualities of the Illinois criminal justice system. The actual practice of criminal law can be quite very different than the knowledge offered in books.

Prosecutorial Discretion

When it comes to do you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois, a very good reason can be found by examining the power of a prosecutor. Their role determines much of what happens in a criminal case. Though from an average person’s view, there may only be one criminal act involved in a case, a prosecutor can charge a defendant with a number of crimes stemming from one act. The reasons for multiple charges ranging in severity can vary based on the merits of the case. The defense for a set of charges can become far more complicated and confusing to the uninitiated.

Whether you’re facing a felony or even a misdemeanor, having an experienced defense lawyer, like the ones we have at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet, can be an immense asset when it comes to facing harsh punishments like prison.

Novice v. Experience

Prosecutors have honed their legal abilities over time, both in and out of the courtroom. A prosecutor is not generally going to make things easy for a pro se defendant. Prosecutors will take full advantage of a novice in the courtroom because they want to win their cases regardless of who is performing the defense. They will use procedures and courtroom technicalities to trip up pro se defendants.

Prosecutors also have a great deal of experience with various defense strategies and they are well aware of how to effectively deal with any strategy a novice will use in the courtroom. Pro se defendants will generally be outmatched in courtroom experience, which can be not only detrimental but also costly in terms of outcomes. If you’re wondering do you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois, just think about facing an experienced and winning prosecutor in the courtroom.

The Power of Elections

Prosecutors and judges are elected officials whose records become the target of opponents in every election. The politics of these positions can play a huge role in how things play out in the courtroom. Prosecutors and judges are expected to be tough on crimes such as drug offenses and DUI cases. It is naïve to think that such pressures will not have an impact on how cases will be tried and prosecuted.

A lawyer who is knowledgeable of the local political scene will be able to better navigate the system to the benefit of the defendant. Someone who is self-representing will rarely have any level of knowledge of the role of politics in the particulars of their case.

How Will an Attorney Help?

No matter how well educated or smart a person is, when deciding do you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois, remember that the criminal justice system is much too complicated for even the smartest among us to effectively represent ourselves. Additionally, defense lawyers:

Personally Invested

When deciding do you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois, remember that as a defendant, you’re going to have a personal stake in all the courtroom proceedings. This high level of personal and emotional investment can sometimes cloud your judgment. Having an impartial and professional criminal defense lawyer can help keep the strategies and responses clear and effective, something that cannot always be achieved in pro se defenses.

After the Trial

If your defense attorney fails to properly defend you, this can be used to appeal your case or have a conviction reversed. People who choose to self-represent cannot use this argument. Though they may have made mistakes in their defense, the law does not allow them to use their own poor performance as a reason to re-examine the case.

Do you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois? Ultimately, the short answer is yes. We at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet can help if you or someone you know needs a defense lawyer. We have experience with criminal trials and can get you the level of defense you need and deserve.

 


Disclaimer: Blogs and articles by O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC are for educational purposes only and to give you a general understanding of the law, not to provide any legal advice or be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed, professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction.

Use all blogs and articles at your own risk. The information presented may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. These materials may be changed, improved, or updated without notice. O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the content of this site or for damages arising from the use or performance of this site under any circumstances.

By reading our blog and articles you also understand that there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC.

July 14, 2017

The Basics of Divorce in Illinois

The Basics of Divorce in IllinoisAt O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet, we help a number of clients through the basics of divorce in Illinois. If you are looking at the prospect of a divorce, the following overview will help you get an understanding of the process.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

First, it is important to understand that a divorce can have long-term consequences for you. You may not understand or even be aware of all of them, even if you and your spouse agree on everything. Given the potential consequences, getting good legal advice is important and may ultimately result in you needing a divorce lawyer.

Self-representation

Representing yourself is called proceeding “pro se”. If you feel you may pursue representing yourself or cannot afford to hire an attorney, you should contact your local circuit’s domestic relations division. They should be able to provide you with information and resources for “pro se” divorces. You can find local circuit court information at the Illinois State Court website.

Residency Requirement

The law requires that either you or your spouse must have resided in the state of Illinois for the last 90 days prior to filing for divorce in Illinois. Service members who are stationed in Illinois can also legally file for divorce if they have been stationed in the state for a minimum of 90 days. For Illinois courts to make any decisions regarding child custody or visitation rights, the children in question must have been residents of the state for the last six months.

“No Fault” Divorces in Illinois

If a couple has irreconcilable differences, or can no longer get along and have lived apart for at least two years, they may qualify for a no fault divorce. If both spouses agree in writing, the court may consider reducing the separation to six months. In Illinois, even if spouses share the same house, they can meet the requirement of living apart if they inhabit different spaces of their home. The separation can start even if the spouses still share finances and even while there are efforts to reconcile, such as marriage counseling.

“Fault” Divorces

There are several grounds for fault divorce in the state of Illinois. The statutes include:

In Illinois, there is little benefit to establishing a fault divorce. Illinois courts do not take a fault into consideration when deciding to divide property or award alimony. Depending on the nature of the fault though, fault may be taken into consideration during child custody or visitation decisions. An attorney can provide guidance as to whether choosing a fault divorce would be beneficial.

Filing for Divorce

In Illinois, divorce is also called dissolution of marriage. The spouse who wants the divorce files a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” with their resident county’s circuit court. The petition must include some basic information about the grounds for dissolution, current living arrangements, and children from the marriage. The appropriate sheriff’s office or process server will “serve” the other spouse with the petition and a summons (also required).

Length of Process

The basics of divorce in Illinois includes a timeframe that can vary widely based on your particular circumstances. If your divorce is uncontested and you are your spouse are in agreement on all the arrangements, your divorce can be as quick as one month. Contested divorce cases, can be lengthy. Some of these cases can take as long as two years or more.

Cost

There is a fee to file your petition and an additional fee to serve your spouse with papers. The total for both is generally around $300. The current specific fees for your area are available from your circuit court office. Attorney, expert, and mediator fees all vary widely and can be unpredictable because of individual rates and time required. The more you and your spouse are in agreement and the fewer issues there are to resolve, the lower your cost will be. If there is a great deal of difficulty reaching agreements, your divorce could become quite expensive.

Joint Simplified Divorce

If you and your spouse meet all the criteria, you may qualify to file a joint simplified divorce petition. This type of divorce is allowed in Illinois if:

If you meet all the criteria, your local court will have the appropriate forms for a joint simplified divorce.

“Prove-Up” Hearings

In uncontested divorces, you and your spouse can enter a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) and your divorce can be resolved with a “prove-up hearing” which is a simple court appearance. Your lawyer can lead you through a “prove-up” hearing so that it is not overwhelming. They will ask questions about your Petition and you will summarize your MSA for the court records.

Now that you know the basics of divorce in Illinois, you can contact us here at O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet if you need guidance on getting a divorce or need an attorney to help you through the process. We’ll protect your rights and make sure you’re thoroughly represented in case any disputes arise. Our goal is to secure the outcome you deserve.

 


Disclaimer: Blogs and articles by O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC are for educational purposes only and to give you a general understanding of the law, not to provide any legal advice or be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed, professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction.

Use all blogs and articles at your own risk. The information presented may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. These materials may be changed, improved, or updated without notice. O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the content of this site or for damages arising from the use or performance of this site under any circumstances.

By reading our blog and articles you also understand that there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC.

June 14, 2017

Illinois Law and Prenuptial Agreements

Illinois Law and Prenuptial AgreementsAt O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet, we have numerous clients who come to us for help in understanding Illinois law and prenuptial agreements. These days, it’s not that unusual for a couple who’s considering marriage to also contemplate whether or not a prenuptial agreement is right for them. The first step is seeing how this arrangement works in the state of Illinois.

The Basics of Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements create a financial understanding both during and after a marriage. It’s made before marriage and it is essentially a contract between spouses. Prenuptial agreements determine how a couple will handle their debts, financial issues, and assets both during their marriage and if they ever decide to divorce. They are also used to delineate the financial circumstances of each spouse and make determinations about how everything will be managed if there is a divorce. The agreement becomes effective upon marriage.

Who Might Want a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement may not seem all that romantic, but they can often be very useful and actually improve marital happiness by addressing your financial issues ahead of time. Though prenuptial agreements used to be somewhat unusual, over time they have become very common. There are a number of reasons to consider a prenuptial agreement, such as:

What Can a Prenuptial Agreement in Illinois Cover?

In Illinois, prenuptial agreements can cover some or all of the following:

Can a Couple Make Amendments to a Prenuptial?

Yes, if both spouses want to alter or revoke their prenuptial agreement they can as long as they are still married. Alterations to the prenuptial agreement must be signed by both spouses and the changes they wish to make must be in writing.

Illinois Law and Prenuptial Agreements, Child Custody

Prenuptial agreements cannot determine or change a child’s right to receive child support. The right to child support belongs to the child, not the parent or legal guardian, and as a result, parents cannot determine, change, or cancel child support via a prenuptial agreement.

Additionally, prenuptial agreements cannot decide child custody. Depending on the situation, parents or the court will decide custody for the child or children at the time of the divorce, based on the child’s best interest at the time of the divorce.

Illinois Law and Prenuptial Agreements, Enforcement

Like a number of other states, Illinois uses the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA). UPAA guidelines outline for the courts whether a prenuptial agreement is enforceable in the state.

Prenuptial agreements do not require a witness beyond the couple involved, and the document must be in writing and signed by both spouses. Additionally, prenuptial agreements are not required to be recorded by a court clerk. While a listing of both spouses debts, assets, and property is not legally required, a court is more likely to enforce the agreement when it is clear that both parties had a clear understanding of each other’s financial situation.

Avoid Nullifying Enforcement of Your Prenuptial Agreement

There are circumstances, which will prompt a judge to not enforce the terms of your prenuptial agreement. These include:

It is up to the judge hearing the divorce case to decide whether the prenuptial agreement is unenforceable due to the circumstances. Attorneys are not required for the judge to make a determination whether the agreement is enforceable.

Other Situations that Invalidate the Agreement

There are additional circumstances that would invalidate a prenuptial agreement. If one spouse was too young to marry, the agreement will be invalidated. Also, if a spouse was still married to another person, the agreement will be considered invalid. Spouses who are mentally deficient, legally incompetent, or insane cannot be expected to have fully understood the prenuptial agreement and such a situation would render the agreement invalidated.

Now that you understand more about Illinois law and prenuptial agreements, come to O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates Joliet for help in putting your prenuptial agreement together so that you and you spouse are better protected both during your marriage and in the unfortunate event of divorce. Simply contact us today for a free initial consultation.

 

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