Hire a Real Estate Attorney to Avoid These 5 Costly Mistakes

Buying a home is a strategic process, so buyers need to be ready to act quickly to secure their dream home. But real estate buyers and sellers should not be in such a hurry that they lose sight of important details in the process. One way to avoid costly mistakes along the way is to hire an experienced real estate attorney.

real estate mistakesThe housing market is booming and houses are selling fast these days!  Buying a home is a strategic process, so buyers need to be ready to act quickly to secure their dream home.  But real estate buyers and sellers should not be in such a hurry that they lose sight of important details in the process.  One way to avoid costly mistakes along the way is to hire an experienced real estate attorney.  Here are some issues that can turn into major problems without proper attention.

Sales Contract is Not Complete

The real estate sales contract is the agreement between the buyer and seller that finalizes the sale.  Once accepted by both parties, it becomes legally binding and neither party can simply change their mind.  Therefore, it is very important to ensure that all information in the contract is accurate and acceptable.  Your attorney can help negotiate the offer, verify contingencies for the sale of another property or acceptable home inspection, confirm that important items such as appliances, window treatments or light fixtures will be left in the home, as well as check for any factual errors throughout the document.

Disclosure Statement Issues 

Sellers of residential properties must make sure that a disclosure statement is completed accurately and honestly.  This important mandatory document discloses the seller’s knowledge of the condition of the property.  This can include defects in the foundation, roof, plumbing or electrical systems, as well as any known infestations or building code violations.  Based on the information on the document, a buyer may want to renegotiate a selling price or even decline an offer completely.  Additionally, a seller may be held legally liable for future issues that were not disclosed on the document, so a legal review can be very important.

Final Walk-Through Issues

Shortly before a real estate closing, buyers should always complete a final walk-through of the property.  The purpose is to ensure that the property is still in its acceptable, agreed-upon condition.  This would be the time to verify that all items listed in the sales contract are present in the house, that all appliances and electrical and heating systems are still working, and that there has been no additional damage to the property.  Your attorney can get involved and help negotiate compensation if any of the contract contingencies are not met or if there is new property damage to repair.

The Title is Not Clear

The title gives a person legal ownership of a property. Before the property can be transferred to a new owner, a title search must be completed to verify current legal ownership and any liens that are attached to the property.  Problems can arise if any liens, such as an old mortgage, judgment or delinquent taxes, still appear on the title.  Likewise, a divorce, trust or probate issue can create questions as to the legal ownership status of the property.  All of these title issues must be cleared up before the property can be legally transferred, so having an experienced attorney review this document is an important part of ensuring a smooth closing process.

Incorrect Closing Documents

One surefire way for a closing to get disrupted is due to errors on the closing documents.  There are a lot of documents that need to be signed in a real estate closing, and each one needs to be inspected to ensure accuracy.  An error in an address, incorrect spelling of a name, inaccurate loan amount, or even missing pages can all cause serious delays in the closing or may lead to legal issues if not corrected at all. Having your attorney review the entire document package prior to the closing can help ensure that any errors are found and corrected before it is too late.

Buying or selling a home is a big responsibility, and should not be taken on alone.  Our team at Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd has decades of experience with real estate transactions and will help to ensure you have a stress-free process, from initial offer through the closing.  Give us a call at 847-223-1500 at the beginning of your home search so we can help at every step along the way!

You’ve Been a Target for IL Unemployment Fraud – Now What??

If you’ve received a letter stating you filed for unemployment when you did not, you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people that are caught up in the IDES (Illinois Department of Unemployment Security) unemployment fraud happening right now. Here’s what to do.

unemployment fraudIf you’ve received a letter stating you filed for unemployment when you did not, you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people that are caught up in the IDES (Illinois Department of Unemployment Security) unemployment fraud happening right now.

Most people receive one or all of:

  • A letter from IDES stating that you have filed for unemployment
  • A letter from IDES detailing your unemployment benefits
  • A debit card from a bank stating it contains your unemployment benefits money
  • A call from your HR department asking why you filed for unemployment

Why Bother Doing Anything?

If you did NOT actually file for unemployment it is still essential that you report the incident as thoroughly as possible.  The first reason is because this is identity fraud which needs to be reported in case your compromised information is used elsewhere.  Also, if the unemployment was approved and payments were made (even if you didn’t receive anything), these payments could be reported to the IRS and they could show up on your income tax liability.  Having the proper documentation could go a long way if you need to show why these payments were fraudulent so you don’t have to pay taxes on them.

So, What Should You Do Next?

The next step should be to call your local police department and file a report with them.  Have any information you have received on hand to supply the officer with the necessary details.  Usually, they will take down your information and call you back with the Case Number.  WRITE DOWN the name of the detective and the Case Number.

Next, Call IDES

Again, have all of the paperwork you received in front of you.  The number to call for IDES Fraud is 800-814-0513.  Most likely, you will get a recording that tells you to leave your cell phone number and you will get a call back on that number.  You may also receive a confirming text on your cell phone.  It could take up to 3 weeks to get a returned call so do not call again.

When an IDES agent returns your call, give them all of the information you have, including the Case Number from your local police department.  They will file a claim on your behalf stating you did not file for unemployment.  WRITE DOWN the date you spoke to someone, that person’s name, & your claimant ID number.

Then, Send a Certified Letter

Although you may not be specifically told to do this, we would recommend you send a certified letter to IDES stating you did NOT file for unemployment and include all of the information you have obtained plus copies of any paperwork you received.  COPY your letter & all attachments before sending and keep everything together, along with the certified letter receipt.

Here are some additional things you could do to report the Identity Theft as suggested in this article:

  • Contact all three major credit reporting agencies to report the identity theft.
  • Report unemployment fraud at illinois.gov/ides. Review bank accounts and notify institutions that have your financial information. Any funds deposited from unemployment must be paid back.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration at gov/antifraudfacts/.
  • Report the fraud at gov.

Because this is a changing process, these steps may NOT be all-inclusive of the steps you need to take but rather should act as a guide to help you along the process.  We highly suggest:

  • Document Everything
  • Write down dates & times when you make AND receive calls
  • Note the name of the person you speak to each time
  • Keep ALL the paperwork you receive
  • Keep COPIES of anything you mail, along with the mailing receipt(s)

We hope this helps you navigate what could be a complicated issue.  As always, if you have any questions with legal matters, the team here at Churchill, Quinn, Richtman, & Hamilton is always ready to help.  We are available to our Grayslake community & northern Illinois neighbors – contact us here:  https://grayslakelaw.com/contact-us/


5 Serious Legal Issues Seniors Can Face

Legal issues can arise at any time, for anyone, at any age. And while a good lawyer is important throughout all stages of your life, seniors can be especially vulnerable. Here are some common situations a senior could be faced with in which they could benefit from the help of an experienced, trusted attorney.

seniors legalLegal issues can arise at any time, for anyone, at any age.  And while a good lawyer is important throughout all stages of your life, seniors can be especially vulnerable.  There are a number of common situations a senior could be faced with in which they could benefit from the help of an experienced, trusted attorney.

Decision-Making Abilities

Many seniors get to a certain point in life where making sound decisions regarding money or healthcare can become difficult due to their declining health or mental capacity. This can be confusing and scary, and can sometimes end badly.  In order to avoid this, seniors should take certain steps early on to set some legal parameters to carry out their wishes.

For example, a power of attorney for both healthcare and finances appoints a trusted person to make decisions for you in case you cannot make them for yourself.  Additionally, a living will clearly states your wishes regarding end-of-life medical treatment.  Another smart precaution seniors can take is to prepare a guardianship agreement in advance, which gives a trusted person legal responsibility for your personal care, that would go into effect in the event if certain health conditions are met.

Real Estate Issues

Growing older can lead to the inevitable “empty nest”, where the kids have moved on and the house suddenly seems too large.  Aging and medical issues can also make walking up and down stairs more difficult.  Whatever the reason, it is common for seniors to sell their house and downsize to something smaller, move to a warmer climate, or even into an assisted living facility.  When selling or purchasing real estate, a senior should have a qualified attorney to review contracts, assist with offers and ensure all closing documents and title policies are in order.


As people get older, they often think of passing on their wealth to their heirs.  Many seniors want to start gifting while they are still living, but this can cause some legal issues.  For example, giving away too many of your assets can cause you to be penalized by Medicaid if you try to apply for long-term benefits.  It is always a good idea to speak with your attorney and develop a well-thought-out plan for gifting during your retirement years.

Legal Issues Following the Death of a Spouse

Losing a spouse is extremely difficult and can come with an overwhelming list of legal responsibilities.  After initial tasks like notifying loved ones and planning the service, estate issues involving the will, trusts, assets, debts, taxes and more must all be settled.  An experienced estate attorney like Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd is essential during these times to ensure everything is completed properly.

Nursing Home Abuse

One of the hardest legal issues facing seniors can be improper care at a nursing home.  Abuse in a healthcare facility can include physical abuse, overmedicating, verbal abuse, lack of proper nutrition, poor hygiene and much more.  Unfortunately, it can be a common occurrence and legal assistance should be sought out at the first sign that you or a loved one may be a victim.

Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd has been an active member of the Grayslake community for over 100 years and we proudly support the senior members of our area with compassion and dedication.  Contact our office at 847-223-1500 for more information or to schedule a consultation.

Savvy Small Business Collections Tactics in Troubling Times

Small businesses have been hit hard in these times of COVID-19. So many are trying to stay afloat, but are facing big challenges due to clients that cannot pay their bills on time. Here are a few practical suggestions for maximizing your collections efforts.

collections small businessSmall businesses have been hit hard in these times of COVID-19.  So many are trying to stay afloat, but are facing big challenges due to clients that cannot pay their bills on time.  Here are a few practical suggestions for maximizing your collections efforts.

Understand that Everyone is in the Same Boat

The financial effects of the pandemic have affected people at all levels.  And while your business might be suffering, it is important to remember that others are likely going through the same thing.  So if there is a way to be flexible, by providing a slight extension on a due date, for example, it might pay off when trying to collect.  Clients that have always paid their bills promptly may just need a little extra time to get the payment to you and would probably appreciate the willingness to accommodate them.

Try Multiple Channels of Contact

Business structures are very different right now.  Many employees are working from home and are not as organized as they are when in the office.  If your emails have gone unanswered, try calling instead.  And unfortunately many employees have been laid off, so the person you thought was your collections contact may not be anymore.  Don’t be afraid to go up the chain of command to get to the right person.

Try Renegotiating Payment Terms

It would not be fair to expect you to completely release a client from their obligation to your company, but it might be beneficial to all involved to alter the original terms of their payment to you.  Perhaps providing a payment plan that would allow your client to pay in smaller increments over time instead of one lump sum would be a viable option.  Another option might be to forgive the accrued fees or interest in order to allow the client to pay in full.

Get Help When Your Efforts Have Failed

As a business owner you should try to preserve your good clients whenever possible.  Showing them flexibility now, when times are hard, will go a long way in securing their loyalty as a customer in the future.  Of course, trying to settle past due debt can be difficult, and your collections efforts may not always yield the results you were hoping for.  When legal action needs to be taken, Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd is the right choice for representation.  Our firm has extensive experience and expertise in collections litigation and can help your company recover the money that is owed to you.  Contact our office at 847-223-1500 to make an appointment with our team.


Additional information can be referenced here

4 Legal Issues Every Pet Owner Should Be Aware Of

With all of the positive benefits of owning a pet, there can also be some drawbacks. Here are some legal issues that every pet owner should take note of.

pet legal issuesSome of the greatest joys in life can come from pet ownership.  Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird or even a farm animal, our pets can be a source of companionship, amusement and unconditional love.  However, with all of the positive benefits of owning a pet, there can also be some drawbacks.  In fact, there are some legal issues that every pet owner should take note of.

Dog Bites

If your dog bites someone, that person may likely file a lawsuit for damages such as medical costs and pain and suffering.  It may have been an accident, or the dog may have broken off of their leash.  Or it may even be a case of the person taunting the animal, thereby causing it to act aggressively.  But according to varying state laws, it may not matter what the reason behind the bite may be.  The owner or person in charge of the dog may be liable for damages regardless of the situation.  However, many states, such as Illinois, may provide for exceptions to the dog-bite liability statutes if you can prove that the dog was provoked.  Illinois’ statute 510 ILCS 5/16 covers dog bites and related injuries.

 Nuisance Claims

Many pet owners may wonder if it is actually illegal if their dog continuously barks outside.  Likewise, the issues may come up in the case of barnyard animals, like roosters making excessive noise at sunrise.  Specific ordinances and fines regarding animal noise, or simply noise levels in general, vary by city and county.  Most do reference violations for excessive animal noise, and fines tend to increase for each subsequent offense.  Additionally, neighbors filing nuisance claims for loud animals can sometimes bring other violations to light, including animal vaccination violations, fencing violations or prohibited animal violations.  Overall, keeping your pets reasonably quiet will keep the peace in your neighborhood and help you to avoid additional legal trouble.

Pet Custody Issues

Pets can definitely become like family members.  Unfortunately, if a couple separates a legal battle can ensue for custody, especially if there are no actual children involved.  Sadly, many states view pets solely as “property”, treating them no differently than a piece of furniture.  In Illinois, pets are technically considered to be property, but are also viewed as companion animals.  Therefore a judge can take a pet’s well-being into consideration when determining sole or joint custody.  Additionally, the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 (750 ILCS 60/214) allows a judge to award temporary legal custody of an animal to one partner if there is evidence of domestic abuse that also presents a danger to the animal.

Estate Planning Considerations

On the same note regarding pets being members of the family, provisions should be made for their care in the event something happens to their owners.  It is a great idea to specifically mention your pet in your will so you know they are going to be cared for by the person of your choice.  However, you cannot legally leave actual money or property to your pet.  So if you want to provide a monetary allowance for the caregiving of your pet, it is best to leave it to the person who will assume custody.  Another legal consideration for short-term pet care, in the event that you are unable to care for your pet due to illness, is to prepare a Power of Attorney for Pet Care.  This document would provide a caregiver the legal authority to act on your behalf to make decisions for your pet according to your directives.

Our Attorneys are Skilled in a Variety of Practice Areas

At Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd, we are here to provide legal guidance in many different aspects of your life and business.  From minor consultations regarding ordinance violations to complete estate planning to major litigation services for individuals or corporations, we can make sure you are legally protected in times of need.  We have been a respected member of our community for over 100 years and we look forward to providing you with the personalized, high-quality representation we are known for.  Contact us at 847-223-1500 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Avoid These 4 Costly Mistakes When Selling Your Small Business

Selling a small business is never an easy decision. As a business owner, you put a lot of time and effort into building the business. Therefore, it is often not just a financial decision, but an emotional one as well. For this reason, it is important to have as much information as possible before moving forward. If you do come to the conclusion that selling is the best route, be sure to avoid these common mistakes.

small businessSelling a small business is never an easy decision.  As a business owner, you put a lot of time and effort into building the business.  Therefore, it is often not just a financial decision, but an emotional one as well.  For this reason, it is important to have as much information as possible before moving forward.  If you do come to the conclusion that selling is the best route, be sure to avoid these common mistakes.

Not selling at the right time

Timing is everything when it comes to selling a small business.  Before listing your business, there are steps you should take to ensure it is best-positioned for a profitable sale.  Gather financial and tax documents for the last several years as well as legal documents such as leases agreements or client contracts.  Additionally, you should get the physical working area organized and in good working order by cleaning and completing necessary repairs.  While preparation is important, it should be done in a timely manner, since waiting too long to sell can also be a mistake.  The market can change quickly, and many factors can affect a buyer’s willingness to make an offer.  Evaluate your situation carefully and list when business is good in order to increase your chance of a good sale.

Not valuing the small business properly

In order to determine a reasonable listing price for your business, you must be sure that you have an accurate valuation.  You don’t want to lose money by selling it for too little, but listing it at too high of a price can scare off potential buyers.  It’s a good idea to get a professional business valuation which will give you an objective opinion of a reasonable selling price, based on the strengths and weaknesses of your business, its financial soundness and a comparison of your competitors and similar sales.

Trying to do it alone

Selling a small business is a complex process.  So it is unrealistic to expect that you could successfully navigate the whole process without any help.  This is your life’s work, so it is important to call in the experts to make sure the deal goes smoothly.  For the best support and guidance, surround yourself with a competent team.  First, this should include a business broker who can be extremely valuable in matching the right buyers and sellers.  Next, a good accountant will advise on your financial status, including your assets and liabilities and what will be included in the sale.  Finally, an experienced attorney is essential throughout the process for negotiating, preparing the necessary agreements to legally transfer the business, as well as ensuring that you complete the sale free from any further obligations or liabilities.

Not being financially prepared for life after the sale

When selling your small business with the intent of retiring, you must make sure you are prepared financially for life after you’ve sold it.  With no business to draw regular income from, you should have confidence in your savings and investments, as well as have a solid estate plan in place for security.  Working with an established attorney before you retire can help you develop a sound financial strategy for wealth protection throughout your retirement years.

The team at Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd is experienced in mergers and acquisitions and will be a valuable partner in selling your small business.  From transfer agreements to non-disclosure agreements to negotiating the best terms for your sale, we have decades of experience offering innovative approaches to complex transactions.  Additionally, our estate planning experts will help ensure your wealth is protected now and for future generations.   Contact us at 847-223-1500 or visit us online to learn more.

Additional information can be referenced here

Choose the Right Estate Executor Now to Protect Your Heirs Later

One of the most important things you can do to make the probate process easier is to select a trustworthy executor to make sure your wishes are carried out as you intended.

executorWhile nobody wants to think of their eventual passing, getting your estate in order now is the best thing you can do to protect those you love in the future.  When you pass without a solid estate plan in place, your family may be subject to a lengthy probate process before your estate can be distributed.  One of the most important things you can do to make the process easier is to select a trustworthy executor to make sure your wishes are carried out as you intended.

Role of an executor

An executor is responsible for carrying out the terms of a deceased person’s will.  The will is a document that specifies a person’s final wishes and how they want their estate dispersed after they pass.  Acting as an executor is a big responsibility, as they become the legal representative of the deceased person’s estate.

Appointing an executor

There are a few basic requirements a person must meet in order to be named as an executor in the state of Illinois.  They must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. resident, and must be of sound mind. Additionally, Illinois prohibits anyone from serving as an executor that has a previous felony conviction.  It is wise to name an executor who lives close by, as the responsibilities may require a great deal of time, and may involve in-person appearances within the court system. However, if the executor lives outside of the state of Illinois, they may be required to post bond in some cases.

Above all, when preparing a will it is very important to name an executor who is responsible and who you trust to carry out your final wishes.  A person can refuse to accept this role, so it is smart to ask first, and then review a copy of the will beforehand to make sure everything is clear so there is no confusion after you pass.

Important duties

The primary focus of an executor is to manage and distribute a deceased person’s assets along with paying their debts.  A more detailed description of responsibilities could include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • File the will and death certificate
  • Notify others of the death (such as friends, family, financial institutions or government agencies)
  • Get legally appointed by the court to be the executor to begin the probate process
  • Set up an estate bank account
  • Represent the estate in court
  • Make an inventory of assets
  • Properly care for the estate’s assets until they can be distributed
  • Pay debts and taxes
  • Distribute assets

We are estate planning and probate experts

Whether you are planning the best way to protect your estate for your heirs or trying to navigate the probate process after a loved one has passed, chances are you will need some help along the way.  Being named as an executor can be particularly overwhelming, especially if the estate is large or the will is complicated.  Our team is highly experienced in all areas of estate planning and probate and we can help alleviate some of the stress that is often involved when dealing with these matters.  Contact our office at 847-223-1500 for further information on probate, will preparation, estate planning, trust administration and more.


Additional information can be referenced here

That Insurance Policy Does Not Guarantee Protection in All Cases

Having a good insurance policy in place should provide the protection you need when it comes time to file a claim. But unfortunately, it’s not always as straightforward as it should be. See how some insurance companies avoid paying on claims, and what you can do about it.

insurance policyMost people understand the important role an insurance policy can play as a form of financial protection in various areas of their lives.  And if the need arises to file a claim, they would also expect a quick and fair settlement from the insurance company.  But unfortunately (and surprising to many), purchasing an insurance policy does not automatically mean that your claim will be paid.

Whether you have a personal or business insurance policy, there is always a chance of your claim being denied.  Some examples of insurance policies that often encounter disputes might include:

  • Auto insurance
  • Residential homeowners insurance
  • Title insurance
  • Commercial property insurance
  • Commercial general liability insurance
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance

Why an insurance company may deny your claim

Insurance companies, like any business, want to maximize their revenue and minimize their losses.  Therefore, they often look to limit their payouts or even completely deny claims when possible.  Some common reasons that an insurance company could use to deny a claim would include:

  • Coverage may not have been in effect due to missed payments or other factors
  • There is a question of liability, or who was at fault, in the case of an accident
  • The terms of the insurance policy may have been violated
  • The information you provided on your original insurance application may be in question

Bad faith denials

One common and particularly frustrating form of denial is when the decision by the insurer is made in bad faith.  This means that the insurance company intentionally denies the claim when there is no valid reason to do so.  Or similarly, they could drag out the case for an extended period of time thereby delaying a settlement indefinitely.  If you believe you are a victim of bad faith by your insurer, you should speak to one of our attorneys who can help determine if a lawsuit would be an appropriate course of action.

An experienced attorney can help get a denial overturned

Insurance litigation is a very complex area of law.  An insurance policy tends to be very long and filled with legal fine print that is essential to understand if you want to succeed in a dispute with a large insurance company.  Our legal team at Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd is highly qualified to represent both individual and business clients in matters of insurance disputes and have helped our clients achieve successful resolutions in a wide range of situations.  Schedule your initial consultation to learn more about resolving your insurance claim dispute by calling 847-223-1500.

Medical Malpractice Warning Signs to Watch Out For

Medical malpractice can occur in any number of situations and it is something every patient needs to be aware of. Here’s what to watch out for.

medical malpracticeA medical environment, whether a hospital, doctor’s office, clinic or nursing care facility, can be chaotic at times.  In addition, extended wait times and unhappy patients can put added pressure on the medical staff.  However, this does not mean that the care you receive should be less than you deserve.  Medical malpractice can occur in any number of situations and it is something every patient needs to be aware of.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional or organization fails to provide appropriate care to a patient, which then results in injury or harm to the patient with damaging or lasting consequences (such as pain, suffering or other hardship).  This law refers to the actions of a doctor, nurse, hospital, surgical center, or any other professional or place that provides medical treatment.  It should be noted that a poor medical outcome is not always due to malpractice.  However, every patient has the right to a certain standard of care.  If that right is violated, legal action can be taken.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

There are different forms of medical malpractice which can be noted throughout the healthcare process.

  • Diagnosing errors – doctors have the difficult responsibility of observing a patient’s symptoms, medical history and other contributing factors to determine what is wrong with them. Failure to correctly diagnose a patient can lead to an incorrect treatment plan and loss of time to appropriately cure what they actually suffer from.  Unfortunately, in a case of a serious disease, an initial diagnosing error can mean the difference between life and death.
  • Surgical errors – surgeries are serious procedures, and patients put a lot of trust into the ability of their doctor and team to perform them safely and correctly. When a doctor makes a mistake during a surgical procedure, the results can be disastrous.  Errors such as operating on the wrong body part, nerve or tissue damage, or even leaving a foreign object inside a body are all grounds for legal action for medical malpractice.
  • Medication errors – it is extremely common for a doctor to prescribe medication as part of a treatment plan. This practice, however, allows for a variety of situations in which errors can occur.  Prescribing a dose that is too high or too low, prescribing a medication that a patient is allergic to or has dangerous interaction with other drugs the patient is taking, or administering the wrong medication altogether can all be serious forms of medical malpractice.

What to Do if you Suspect You are a Victim

Again, not everything that goes wrong in a doctor’s office or hospital is a result of medical malpractice.  Certain criteria must be present if you want to successfully bring a claim against a medical provider.

  • A duty of care was owed by the medical professional or hospital
  • An action, or a failure to act, by the medical provider has breached the duty of care
  • That breach directly results in injury or harm to the patient
  • The patient experiences considerable physical, emotional or financial damage as a result of the breach

Medical malpractice claims are complex and it can be difficult to go up against a large medical practice or facility.  Call our office at 847-223-1500 to schedule your complimentary consultation to discuss your case.

Additional information can be referenced here

Practical Legal Guidance for Landlords During COVID-19

Our legal team provides practical legal guidance for both residential and commercial landlords dealing with missing or delayed rent payments due to COVID-19 challenges

landlordsInvestors of rental property are in the business of making money.  Whether on a small scale, like a residential property, or larger scale, as is the case in commercial leasing, landlords depend on consistent monthly rent payments in order to not only profit, but to cover their own financial obligations, such as mortgages, taxes, insurance, etc.  COVID-19 is the underlying reason behind many missed rent payments these days, and it is affecting landlords at all levels.

Residential Landlords

For landlords who are renting out an individual property (such as a single-family home, condo, townhouse or 4-unit building), non-payment of rent can be a difficult situation, as they often know their tenants on a more personal level.  Additionally, a smaller, residential landlord may not have a large cash reserve to cover the bills in the event of even one month of missed rent.  Here are a few suggestions for landlords that are trying to maintain a relationship with their tenant while determining what their legal options are.

  • Unemployment is at an all-time high due to COVID-19 so your tenant may want to pay their rent but is simply unable to, due to a job loss. If it is at all possible to work with them on a temporary reduction in rent or other payment options, such as forgiving a month of rent now while adding it to the end of the lease, it could give your tenant the break they need to keep up future payments.
  • Check with your own mortgage company to see if there are any options for the same type of payment assistance.
  • Be aware that a federal order was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on September 4, 2020 to temporarily halt residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.  This order does not release your tenant from their obligations of the lease and rental terms, but it may be difficult to evict them if they stop paying.  Our attorneys can help you understand what your eviction rights are and if there are options, even with the order in place.

Commercial Landlords

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the businesses of our country.  Restaurants and bars have been forced to close or operate in a greatly limited capacity. Consumers are spending less money so demand for services and goods has been diminished.  Businesses of all types and sizes are suffering, and these commercial tenants are losing their ability to pay their rent.  Commercial landlords need reliable legal guidance now more than ever.

  • Tenants may look to invoke a force majeure clause if it was included in their lease agreement, which could excuse their requirement to pay rent. Determining if the COVID-19 pandemic affords the legal right to do so is a complicated issue, and you will definitely need the assistance of a qualified attorney to defend your position.
  • If your tenant is showing good faith efforts to attempt to make rent payments, it is best to try to accommodate them if you can. Negotiating new payment terms can help keep a good tenant in your space. However, always consult with an attorney to ensure the new documents protect your interests and are properly prepared.
  • Opting to evict a tenant due to non-payment of rent can take much longer than in the past. Courts are extremely backed up right now so landlords should be prepared to expect extended delays in the process.

The legal team at Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd has decades of experience helping our business clients succeed through difficult challenges.  Now more than ever, business owners need help navigating the new legal issues that COVID-19 has presented.  For guidance in a landlord-tenant dispute, contact our office at 847-223-1500 to schedule your consultation.

Retire Confidently with these 4 Savvy Estate Planning Strategies

Discover what estate planning steps you can take before you retire to ensure that your personal and financial affairs are in order

retireHeading into retirement should give you a feeling of relief that your working days are over and your estate has been protected for you and for your beneficiaries.  To this end, there are certain actions you can take before you retire to ensure that your personal and financial affairs are in order.

Prepare or Update your Will

It’s never too early to begin your estate planning.  And a will is one of those important documents you can (and should) initially prepare at a young age.  However, as you get older, it is important to review your will to make sure your early intentions have not changed.  The distribution of your wealth and assets should be clearly detailed and your beneficiaries updated as you see fit.  As you retire, you’ll want assurance that when the time comes, your heirs will be taken care of according to your wishes.  In this respect, if you have not yet prepared a will, it is important to discuss the options with your attorney as soon as possible.

Have a Living Will Prepared

A will is necessary to protect your heirs after you pass, but a living will (as the name suggests) is meant to protect you while you are still here.  This important legal document outlines the type of medical care you want for yourself if you are unable to make the decision.  For example, pain management directives, organ donation and whether or not you would want to be kept alive by a machine would all be included in a living will.  You certainly don’t need to wait until you retire to have a living will prepared.  However, if you find yourself without one at retirement age, it is best to get one in order for your own peace of mind.

 Gift Wisely Before and After you Retire

If you have assets that you want to pass on to relatives, it is important to develop wise gifting strategies based on your needs.  There are advantages and disadvantages to gifting portions of your wealth before you pass versus after.  With both financial and emotional implications to consider, it is important to work closely with your attorney here at Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd to develop a strategy based on your specific circumstances.

Consider the Types of Trusts Available

When fine tuning your estate plan before you retire, you should consider if a particular type of trust could help you achieve your financial goals for yourself and for your heirs.  There are a number of advantages of establishing a trust. For example, a trust can establish a plan for managing your assets if you become incapacitated, as well as allow you to pass on your assets while avoiding probate.  Additionally, certain trusts have the potential to reduce estate and gift taxes.  There are a wide variety of options out there, but our attorneys can help you decide which trusts would be most beneficial for you and your family.

Our legal team at Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd is looking forward to helping you retire with confidence.  Call our office at 847-223-1500 to schedule a consultation or visit us online to see why our community has trusted us for legal guidance for over 100 years.


Additional information can be referenced here

Commercial Litigation: A Powerful Example of How we Succeed for our Clients

Our commercial litigation experts support our business clients and allow us to obtain the best possible results for a wide range of legal disputes. Here’s a great example of one of our client success stories.

By Mark Van Donselaar, Partner – Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd


commercial litigationIt wasn’t long after I started practicing law (commercial litigation in particular) in 2005 that I came to realize I wasn’t very good at explaining what it was that I actually did.  At parties or social events, it was easy enough to say, “I’m an attorney”.   I was capable of that.  And don’t get me wrong, I understood what I did. I understood (at least marginally well) the issues of law that I was dealing with and the procedural aspects of the law. But when it came to telling others what kind of work I did, that’s where I struggled.

Commercial Litigation is Wide Reaching

You see, from the outset of my legal career, I practiced primarily in the area of commercial litigation – sometimes also referred to as business litigation. Whether called commercial litigation or business litigation, either can refer to an astounding variety of litigation. If I were to just scratch the surface as to the types of matters that could be included under the umbrella of “commercial litigation” it would include, but by no way be limited to: breach of contract disputes, fraud cases, breach of fiduciary duty claims, debt collection cases, construction cases, all manner of real estate disputes, shareholder and partnership disputes, mechanics lien cases, landlord-tenant disputes, restrictive covenant claims, and the list goes on and on and on.

One thing that I’ve always loved about my type of practice, is that there is endless variety. However, you can imagine that when explaining to other people (especially non-attorneys) what it was that I did, it didn’t take long for their eyes to glass over. I was jealous of the family law or criminal defense attorney who could explain his or her area of practice, which nearly everyone could easily relate to.

Over the years, I think I’ve gotten better at explaining the area of law in which I practice and the type of work that I do. I’ve found that giving good concrete examples of what I’ve done for clients is often better than saying “I practice in the area of commercial litigation”. That leads me to a recent client success story.

A Success Story for our Commercial Client

A client came to me in September of 2019 with a problem.  This client is engaged in business as a material supplier for construction work.  In other words, they sell everything from lumber, trusses, windows, and millwork that are used in construction.  As is typical in the world of construction and material suppliers, this client typically sells materials to its customers on credit. They were having problems with a customer who was well outside of its payment terms, so my client was looking to help to secure and collect upon the debt owed by the customer.

Upon reviewing the situation with the client, I learned that they were still able to perfect their mechanics lien rights for the majority of the balance that was owed by the customer. The mechanics lien allowed us to stake a claim against the real estate where the client’s materials were used, for the balance due my client for the materials that it provided.  We perfected our mechanics lien on the real estate, and shortly afterwards we brought litigation based on that lien.

We served the owner of the real estate with the lawsuit, and it didn’t take long for discussions to begin between myself and the attorney for the owner of the real estate. The customer was also served with the lawsuit, but it quickly became obvious that the customer had no ability to pay my client. Further discussions and informal discovery (sharing documents) with the owner’s attorney took place. Finally, the property was inspected to confirm that the materials furnished by my client were actually used for the construction and were of good quality.

I’m happy to report that after all of the foregoing, my client received the full dollar amount of the mechanics lien that we recorded on their behalf.  This matter was a textbook case demonstrating the value and importance of having a mechanics lien. The mechanics lien that we recorded secured the client’s ability to recover payment from the owner of the real estate where the work was done. Without the mechanics lien, the client’s claim would have been limited to a claim against its customer, which had no ability to pay.

I’ve been representing clients on mechanics liens throughout my career. While it (and commercial litigation in general) is sometimes a hard area of law to explain to other people, and does not make for the best stories at cocktail parties, the reward that comes with it are results like we recently obtained for our client.

Contact Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd for Your Business Needs

Whatever legal dispute your business may be faced with, our experienced team can provide the necessary support to successfully win your case.  Contact our office at 847-223-1500 to learn more or to schedule a consultation.


3 Things Employers Can Do Right Now to Ensure Employee Safety

In these uncertain times, “business as usual” just doesn’t exist. Here are some tips for employers who are trying their best to keep their businesses open while also focusing on employee safety during a pandemic.

employee safetyCovid-19 has deeply affected businesses of all sizes.  In these uncertain times, “business as usual” just doesn’t exist.  Employers are trying their best to keep their businesses open while also focusing on employee safety during a pandemic.

Develop Procedures to Prevent Infection

Having procedures in place that help reduce the chance of infection can go a long way in the fight for employee safety, and to promote a healthier and safer workplace.  Some examples could be:

  • Encourage frequent hand-washing
  • Provide hand sanitizer throughout the workplace that is at least 60% alcohol
  • Keep individual work spaces and office equipment (such as phones or desks) isolated by installing additional barriers and/or discouraging use by more than one employee
  • Maintain regular or enhanced cleaning procedures throughout the workplace. This could include more frequent cleanings, electrostatic spraying, etc. to disinfect high-touch areas and equipment
  • Encourage mask or other PPE use by employees when appropriate, and ask customers or visitors to wear face coverings
  • Increase ventilation rates to improve indoor air quality

Identify and Isolate Sick Employees

If an employee becomes infected, it is important to take steps to prevent them from transmitting the virus to other employees.  One way to do this is to ask employees to check their own temperatures before leaving for work.  Anyone that registers a fever should be instructed to stay home and follow CDC-recommended procedures.  Additionally, employers can safely and respectfully perform wellness checks for all employees and visitors upon arrival, through screening questions and temperature checks.  Those who show symptoms should be asked to refrain from entering the workplace.  Likewise, employees who become sick during the day should be sent home or to a medical facility immediately and their workspace should be closed off and thoroughly disinfected.

Allow Flexibility in the Workplace

One of the best ways to accommodate and protect employees is to make their workplace and schedules more flexible.  If it is not absolutely necessary for an employee to physically be present in the office, allowing them to work from home can go a long way in keeping them safe.  In addition to work-from-home options, policies should be in place for flexible sick leave for employees to care for themselves or family members if necessary.  These days, people need flexibility without a fear of losing their job. These flexible options will show that as an employer, you are keeping employee safety at the top of your priority list.

It may seem overwhelming right now to keep track of constantly evolving guidelines for employee safety at your place of business.  The above tips are just a small sample of the protective measures you can put in place to enhance the safety and security of your workplace and your employees.  At Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd, we understand your challenges and know that legal issues may arise due to current circumstances.  We are here to help guide you through these difficult times.  Contact us at 847-223-1500 or visit us online for more information.

More comprehensive information for employers can be found HERE and HERE

A Power of Attorney is a Powerful Way to Protect Your College Student

Once a child turns 18, a parent may not have the legal authority to step in and make decisions if necessary. One way to provide some much-needed protection is to have a power of attorney (POA) prepared before they head off on their own.

power of attorneyIt can be so difficult for parents to send their child off to college for the first time.  After all, there are crazy things going on in the world and you won’t always be there in person to make sure they are alright.  While it’s difficult letting go, you still want to make sure you have the ability to help if they need it.  It should be noted that once a child turns 18, they are legally an adult and therefore a parent may not have the authority to step in and make decisions if necessary.  One way to provide some much-needed protection is to have a power of attorney (POA) prepared before they head off on their own.

Reasons They Need a Power of Attorney

When deciding if a power of attorney is really necessary, consider the following situations in which the document could be used:

  • If they suffer from an illness or disability that prevents them from making financial decisions for themselves, a POA can give you the authority to make decisions for them
  • If they were to experience a medical emergency, it can be very difficult for a parent to get any information from medical staff or make any medical decisions. This is because once they turn 18 years old, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) laws prevent this disclosure, unless your child specifically gives them permission.
  • Financial matters such as managing bank accounts, paying bills, filing taxes, or any other number of issues, can be difficult for your child to handle from a distance. A POA can allow you to step in to help when your child needs assistance.

Different Types of Powers of Attorney

There are 2 different power of attorney documents, and each serves a different purpose.  Thus, your best bet is to have both forms prepared in order to cover any possible scenario.

Medical Power of Attorney – If your adult child ends up in the hospital, this document can give you the authority to make medical decisions for them if they are unable to do so.  Without one, all medical decisions would be made solely by the doctors.

On this same note, it is also a good idea to complete a HIPAA authorization form.  If your child was involved in an accident, for instance, the law would prevent you from obtaining any information over the phone regarding their medical condition.  This form would give you legal authority to receive their private health data.

General Durable Power of Attorney – This document gives you the authority to make financial decisions on your adult child’s behalf.  This can allow you to help manage bank accounts or pay bills, or make larger decisions if they are unable to due to illness or disability.  Additionally, it can give you access to your child’s grades and transcripts.  Many parents do not realize that this information is not automatically available to them just because they are paying the tuition bill!

There is certainly a lot to think about before your child leaves for school.  At Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd, we are here to make that job a little less stressful.  Our knowledgeable team of attorneys can provide you with all the essential documents you need, so you can be confident they will be protected financially and medically.  Contact our office at 847-223-1500 to learn more.

Additional information can be referenced here

Should You Use a Non-Compete Clause in Your Business?

In some cases an employer may want to ensure an employee does not compete against them after termination. In this case, a non-compete clause can be beneficial.

non-compete clauseIn today’s competitive market, businesses are often faced with many legal issues when it comes to protecting their assets. While trade secrets and other confidential information can be safeguarded through non-disclosure agreements, in some cases an employer may want to ensure an employee does not compete against them after termination. In this case, a non-compete clause can be beneficial.

 What is a Non-Compete Clause?

A non-compete clause (NCC), is a legal contract that prohibits an employee from conducting business in direct competition with an employer within a certain period of time after leaving the company. In some cases, it may also be referred to as a covenant not to compete (CNC) or a non-compete agreement (NCA).

Why is a Non-Compete Clause Important?

A non-compete clause is important because it protects a company’s confidential information and prohibits a former employee from using those secrets for their own advantage in competition against the business. For example, if a salesman leaves a larger paper company and goes into business for himself, a valid non-compete clause could specify that he would not be able to set up his paper company within 50 miles of the large company for a duration of two years after leaving.

What Happens if you Violate a Non-Compete Clause?

In order for a judge to uphold a non-compete agreement, the contract must be valid and “reasonable,” meaning it can’t be too restrictive. The contract should be clear with details such as how long it lasts and exactly what constitutes “competition”.

It is important to note that some states do not enforce non-compete clauses or are very limited in what they will allow, in the interest of free enterprise. In states where a non-compete clause is found to be valid, and has been violated, the result can include hefty fines and lengthy litigation.

Whether you are an employer who wants to protect your business trade secrets, or an employee who has been asked to sign a unclear non-compete agreement, our highly-qualified attorneys are ready to help. Contact Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd in Grayslake to get started!

Additional info referenced here and here.

Bankruptcy Basics: 3 Things You Need to Know Before Filing

If times have been especially hard financially, and you are wondering how to find relief, know that you are not alone. If you believe a bankruptcy is the way out, read on for important information you’ll need to get started.

bankruptcyIf times have been especially hard financially, and you are wondering how to find relief, know that you are not alone.  Increasingly, many people are struggling with this exact problem.  More and more employees have been laid off, or have had their income decreased, and are dealing with unpaid bills.  In some cases, creditors are trying to offer solutions, but it may not be enough.  If you believe a bankruptcy is the way out, read on for important information you’ll need to get started.

There are Different Types of Bankruptcy

One size does not fit all when it comes to a bankruptcy.  Indeed, different situations call for different approaches.  The two types of bankruptcy to consider are:

  • Chapter 7 – The quickest way to eliminate all, or most, of your debt is to file a Chapter 7  This type of bankruptcy can clear away your unsecured debt in a matter of months.  However, you will likely lose possession of much of your personal property.  Additionally, it can have a lasting negative impact on your credit report.
  • Chapter 13 –A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a structured repayment plan that allows you to pay off your debt over 3-5 years, based on your monthly income. If you have the means to make monthly payments, this might be a good choice.  Perhaps most importantly is because with this plan, you can stop foreclosure proceedings and avoid losing your home.  However, with this plan you are not actually getting rid of your debt all at once.  You are just paying it off with a modified payment plan.  This might not be the right choice if you need a more immediate solution.

When you speak to one of our attorneys, we will discuss your specific circumstances and help you determine which of these options, if any, is most beneficial for your family.

Only Certain Debt can be Included in a Bankruptcy

You might be wondering what type of debt you would be able to eliminate if you decide to file a bankruptcy.  The rules do differ a bit for chapter 7 and 13. However, both should allow you to discharge debt from credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, utility bills, back rent, lawsuit judgments or most other unsecured debts.  Secured debt, such as a mortgage or car loan, can also be discharged.  However, this also means that you would give up possession of that property.

When we review your outstanding bills, we can determine exactly which of your debts could be included, based on your specific case.

Some Accounts Cannot be Included

While a bankruptcy can offer you a fresh start, there are some types of debt that generally cannot be discharged in either type of filing.  Some common examples would include child support and alimony, student loans, many types of taxes, fines or penalties owed to the government or courts, or personal injury debts that resulted from a drunk driving accident.  Debts that are not included on your bankruptcy petition are also typically not discharged, so it is important to have a qualified attorney help you complete everything correctly.

Filing for bankruptcy is a serious decision.  Therefore, it is important to consider both the pros and cons. You may think it is a necessary action, but it may not actually be the right choice.  Speaking to a knowledgeable attorney is the best first step to determining your options.  If you do decide to file for bankruptcy, you will need strong legal guidance along the way to make sure all of the paperwork is completed and filed properly.  Contact Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd at 847-223-1500 to schedule your appointment with one of our experienced lawyers to discuss your case.


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