Ensure Medical Wishes are Obeyed: A Living Will Provides Essential Protection

A living will provides direction to your healthcare providers and loved ones during challenging times, ensuring that your desires are honored regarding important medical decisions.

living will benefits

Imagine a situation where a sudden accident or illness leaves you unable to communicate your medical preferences. This is where a living will becomes crucial. A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that outlines your wishes for medical treatments and life-sustaining measures in the event you are incapacitated and can’t make decisions for yourself. It provides direction to your healthcare providers and loved ones during challenging times, ensuring that your desires are honored regarding important medical decisions.

Scenarios where a Living Will is Essential

A living will becomes your voice in various situations where you can’t speak for yourself. Some scenarios you might encounter where a living will would provide valuable medical guidance would include:

  • Chronic Illness: Imagine battling a progressive illness like Alzheimer’s or ALS. As the disease advances, your ability to communicate effectively diminishes. A living will ensure that your wishes regarding treatment, such as pain management or opting out of aggressive interventions, are known beforehand.
  • Unexpected Medical Emergencies: A sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, or severe allergic reaction can leave you unconscious and unable to express your preferences. A living will clarifies your wishes for resuscitation (CPR) or the use of ventilators, preventing confusion and distress for loved ones faced with making these critical decisions on your behalf.
  • End-Stage Medical Situations: If you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness, a living will empowers you to decide the course of your final days. You can specify preferences for comfort care, focusing on pain management and quality of life, rather than prolonging life through artificial means.
  • Mental Incapacity: Mental health conditions like severe depression or dementia can impair your ability to make informed decisions. Having a living will in place safeguards your wishes if your mental state deteriorates.

Consequences of Not Having a Living Will in Place

When there is no living will, medical decisions would become the responsibility of family members or medical providers. This can lead to several unfortunate consequences:

  • Family Conflict: Without clear instructions provided by a living will, family members may find themselves at odds regarding the appropriate course of action for your medical care. This can lead to disagreements, strain relationships, and even legal battles, adding unnecessary stress during an already emotionally charged time.
  • Unwanted Medical Treatment: In the absence of a living will, healthcare providers may default to providing aggressive, life-prolonging treatments, even if they go against your values and preferences. This can result in interventions that diminish your quality of life and prolong suffering unnecessarily.
  • Loss of Control: Not having a living will means relinquishing control over your own medical care during times when you’re unable to communicate. Your fate may be left in the hands of others who may not fully understand your wishes or values, leading to outcomes that don’t align with your desires. In extreme cases, courts may get involved to decide your treatment, potentially leading to outcomes you wouldn’t have wanted.

Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd. for Estate Planning

While it is never enjoyable to think about mortality or severe medical complications, they are a fact of life and they can happen at any time. This is why estate planning is so important. Planning ahead can provide a kind of peace of mind, at least knowing that your wishes for how you want your medical care carried out will be clearly stated and followed, without relying on loved ones (or even strangers) to bear the burden of making those decisions for you. Reach out to our team at 847-223-1500 to work with our experienced legal advisors. We can help with a wide range of comprehensive estate planning strategies to help ensure the protection of you and your loved ones now and into the future.

4 Ways a Skilled Attorney Can Protect Home Buyers & Sellers This Season

Whether you’re a buyer eager to find a new place or a seller navigating the process for the first time, having a qualified real estate attorney on your side is essential.

attorney for home buying and selling

As spring nears, the real estate market tends to heat up as well. The warmer weather in the Chicagoland area at this time of year often brings a surge in home buying and selling activity, marking the beginning of what is often known as the prime season in the real estate world. For both buyers and sellers, this time can be both exhilarating and overwhelming.

While the excitement of finding your dream home or getting top dollar for your property is real, it’s important to remember that real estate transactions are complex legal matters. Whether you’re a buyer eager to find a new place or a seller navigating the process for the first time, having a qualified real estate attorney on your side is essential.

Legal Protection

One of the primary reasons to work with an attorney in your real estate transaction is to ensure legal protection. Our attorneys who specialize in real estate law have a comprehensive understanding of state and local regulations governing property transactions. They can review contracts, identify potential risks, and safeguard your interests throughout the process. And when necessary, they can offer competent representation throughout any court proceedings.

Real Estate Contract Expertise

Real estate contracts are filled with legal jargon and clauses that can be confusing to the untrained eye. Our attorneys can decipher these complexities, explain their implications, and negotiate terms that align with your best interests. Whether you’re drafting an offer, reviewing a purchase agreement, or negotiating contingencies, having legal guidance ensures that you’re making informed decisions.

Mitigating Risks

Real estate transactions are not without risks. From title issues to zoning regulations, unforeseen obstacles can arise and derail a deal. A qualified attorney can conduct due diligence to uncover any potential issues before they escalate, saving you time, money, and headaches down the road. Additionally, in the event of disputes or litigation, having one of our knowledgeable attorneys on your side can provide valuable support and representation to protect your interests.

Peace of Mind

Above all, probably the most significant benefit of working with a qualified attorney is the peace of mind it brings. Knowing that you have a legal expert overseeing your transaction can alleviate stress and instill confidence in your decisions. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, having someone advocate for your interests and navigate the complexities of the real estate market allows you to focus on the excitement of your new venture.

Whether you’re buying your dream home or selling your property, the legal expertise you will receive when you work with Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd. can help you confidently and successfully navigate your real estate transaction. So, as you embark on your real estate journey this spring, remember to partner with one of our trusted attorneys who will guide you through each part of the process, ensuring that your interests are safeguarded every step of the way. Contact us at 847-223-1500 to schedule a consultation.

Employment Law Essentials: 6 Compliance Tips for Small Business Owners

Staying compliant with employment regulations is crucial to avoid legal complications. The following are some essential compliance tips that small business owners need to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and lawful employment environment.

employment law compliance

Running a small business comes with its own set of challenges, and navigating the complex landscape of employment law is undoubtedly one of them. Staying compliant with employment regulations is crucial to avoid legal complications that can arise if the rules are not followed diligently. The following are some essential compliance tips that small business owners need to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and lawful employment environment.

Understand and Communicate Clear Employment Policies

The foundation of employment law compliance lies in having well-defined and communicated employment policies. Ensure that your employees are aware of the company’s policies regarding working hours, breaks, code of conduct, anti-discrimination, and harassment policies. Clearly written policies help set expectations and provide a framework for fair and consistent treatment.

Adhere to Wage and Hour Laws

Wage and hour violations are common pitfalls for businesses of all sizes. It is essential to ensure that your business complies with minimum wage laws, overtime regulations, and pays employees accurately and on time. In addition, keep detailed records of working hours, breaks, and overtime to demonstrate compliance in case of an audit.

Establish a Safe and Healthy Work Environment

Occupational safety and health regulations are vital for maintaining a safe workplace. Small business owners should conduct regular safety assessments, provide necessary training, and implement safety protocols. Failure to comply with safety regulations not only puts employees at risk but can also result in severe legal consequences due to violation of employment law.

Implement Proper Record-Keeping Practices

Accurate record-keeping is essential for employment law compliance. Maintain records of employee details, payroll information, tax forms, and any relevant documentation related to hiring, promotions, or terminations. Proper record-keeping not only helps in compliance but also in addressing any potential legal disputes.

Stay Updated on Employment Discrimination Laws

Small business owners must be aware of and comply with federal and state anti-discrimination laws. To stay compliant, employers must ensure fair treatment in hiring, promotions, and terminations, and make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Additionally, they should regularly educate and update their teams on the latest developments in discrimination laws in order to avoid unintentional violations.

Make Sure to Work With an Attorney Experienced in Employment Law

Partnering with the right attorney can help to ensure the success and legal protection of your business.  This can apply to all aspects of your business, but especially in regard to employment law compliance. The experienced attorneys at Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd can offer valuable legal guidance to ensure that your business remains in compliance with any applicable employment laws. We always stay updated on ever-changing legal issues that relate to businesses, and can provide valuable insights that can help you stay proactive in addressing compliance issues. For additional information or to schedule a consultation, contact our Grayslake office at 847-223-1500.

6 Potential Legal Pitfalls of Commercial Real Estate Transactions

Navigating the legal intricacies of a commercial real estate transaction can be quite complex. An experienced attorney can help ensure a smooth, secure, and successful journey.

commercial real estate transactions

Navigating the legal intricacies of a commercial real estate transaction can be quite complex. Indeed, even one misstep can lead to costly delays, hidden liabilities, or even an outright deal-breaker. This is where an experienced attorney becomes your indispensable partner, ensuring a smooth, secure, and successful journey.

Potential Legal Concerns of Commercial Transactions

Commercial real estate transactions involve a variety of legal considerations that go far beyond just signing a lease or purchase agreement. Here’s a glimpse into the potential legal issues you might encounter: 

  • Zoning and permits: Is the property zoned for your intended use? Are there any restrictions or permits required? Not knowing these details can result in costly fines or even render the deal impossible.
  • Environmental concerns: Has the property undergone environmental assessments? Are there potential hazards (like asbestos or contamination) that could lead to liabilities and cleanup costs?
  • Title issues: Are there any liens, easements, or encumbrances on the property? Failing to uncover these can complicate ownership and future use.
  • Lease terms and clauses: Understanding the intricacies of rent payments, maintenance responsibilities, termination clauses, and other provisions is crucial. Ambiguous terms can lead to disputes and financial losses.
  • Tax implications: Are you aware of the tax implications of the commercial transaction? Choosing the wrong structure could cost you a significant amount of money down the line.
  • Negotiation tactics: Negotiating with experienced landlords or sellers requires skill and knowledge of market trends. Our attorneys can level the playing field to help secure the best terms for the commercial real estate transaction.

Working with Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd Offers Important Legal Protection

When you work with one of our skilled attorneys, we will help you navigate the legal complexities of the commercial real estate process. In fact, we will not only protect your interests, but will also become a trusted partner in the transaction. Here are some ways we can help you reach a successful outcome:

  • Due diligence: We will conduct thorough due diligence, uncovering potential issues and mitigating risks before you commit. This includes title searches, environmental assessments, and zoning verification.
  • Drafting and reviewing contracts: Additionally, we will expertly draft or review agreements, ensuring they accurately reflect your needs and protect your rights. Our deep experience allows us to catch ambiguities and unfavorable clauses you might miss.
  • Negotiation expertise: Our attorneys know the ins and outs of commercial real estate negotiation. We’ll advocate for your best interests, securing favorable terms on rent, lease duration, maintenance responsibilities, and other crucial aspects.
  • Compliance guidance: Another benefit of working with our team is that we ensure the transaction complies with all relevant laws and regulations, saving you from potential legal headaches and fines down the line.
  • Risk mitigation: By anticipating potential issues and suggesting alternatives, we can minimize risks and protect your investment.
  • Dispute resolution: If unforeseen issues arise, our attorneys are experienced litigators and will represent you effectively, minimizing stress and ensuring a fair resolution.

If you are beginning the process of searching for a commercial property, don’t take on the task alone. Contact us at 847-223-1500 to schedule a consultation for the important legal guidance you need for a successful transaction.

Civil Litigation: a Go-To Guide for Resolving Legal Disputes

If you find yourself involved in a legal conflict, understanding the basics of civil litigation and securing competent legal representation can significantly influence the outcome of your case.

civil litigation

Facing a legal conflict? It might be comforting to know that you’re not alone. Every year, countless individuals and businesses find themselves involved in civil litigation, a legal process used to resolve disputes outside the criminal realm. If you find yourself embroiled in such a dispute, understanding the basics of civil litigation and securing competent legal representation can significantly influence the outcome of your case.

Understanding Civil Litigation

Civil litigation is the process of resolving disagreements between individuals, businesses, or organizations. Unlike criminal cases, which seek punishment for wrongdoing, civil disputes seek monetary compensation or specific actions in response to harm or damages suffered. During the process of civil litigation, one party, known as the plaintiff, accuses another party, known as the defendant, of wrongdoing. Throughout the legal proceeding, both parties present evidence to support their case in order to come to a resolution.

Examples of Civil Litigation Cases

Not sure what types of cases qualify as civil litigation? Here are some of the more common situations we see, as well as important ways that our attorneys can play a part in successfully resolving the cases.

Contract Disputes

Contract disputes often arise when the parties involved in an agreement fail to fulfill their obligations as specified in the contract. This could involve breaches of employment contracts, lease agreements, business contracts, or construction contracts. Our knowledgeable attorneys can review the terms of the contract, assess the validity of the claims, and advocate for our client’s interests through negotiation, mediation, or litigation if necessary.

Property Disputes

Property disputes encompass a wide range of conflicts, including boundary disputes, landlord-tenant disputes, real estate fraud, or disagreements over property ownership. Whether it involves residential or commercial property, having legal representation is crucial to protect your rights and interests. When we represent you in this type of civil litigation, we can conduct title searches, interpret property deeds, and advocate for your position in court to resolve the dispute effectively.

Real Estate Transaction Disputes

Real estate transactions often involve numerous parties and intricate legal documents. During or following a transaction, disputes may arise over issues like undisclosed defects in a property or breaches of contract by either party involved in the transaction. In such cases, a person may seek legal recourse through civil litigation.  Our real estate attorneys can navigate the intricacies of property transactions, review relevant documents, and advocate for our clients’ interests in and out of the courtroom.

Insurance Coverage Disputes

Insurance policies are designed to provide financial protection and peace of mind in the face of unforeseen events such as accidents, natural disasters, or personal liabilities. However, disputes may arise between policyholders and insurance companies regarding coverage, claim denials, or settlement amounts. Whether it involves homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, or commercial insurance policies, individuals may find themselves in need of legal representation to enforce their rights and obtain the benefits they are entitled to under their insurance contracts. In these cases, our attorneys can scrutinize policy terms, assess the validity of claims, and advocate for fair treatment and compensation on behalf of policyholders through negotiation or litigation.

Contact Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd for Civil Litigation Assistance

In matters of civil litigation, it is essential to work with a firm that is experienced in this type of counsel. For decades, our attorneys have successfully handled civil litigation cases across the state of Illinois. In fact, our team is well-known amongst their legal peers for their extensive expertise in a wide range of areas. Contact us at 847-223-1500 for additional information or to schedule a meeting to discuss your case.

4 Common Questions about Insurance Claim Denials

When an insurance claim gets denied it can be very frustrating and confusing to the policyholder. Here are answers to some of the most common questions people have when their claim has been declined.

insurance claim denial questions

There are many different types of insurance, and most people understand the importance of having policies in place to provide protection against unforeseen events. If an insurance claim needs to be filed, most people would expect a quick and easy resolution. However, when a claim gets denied it can be very frustrating and confusing to the policyholder. Here are answers to some of the most common questions people have when their insurance claim has been declined.

Why Was My Insurance Claim Denied?

An insurance claim can be denied for a number of reasons, including:

  • 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
  • The claim exceeds the policy coverage limits
  • You are filing a claim for coverage that you did not purchase as part of your policy
  • The insurance company suspects fraud
  • Important details have been left out of the filed claim
  • The claim was not filed on time
  • The insurance company believes your own negligence was a contributing factor
  • The policy’s fine print may contain exclusions pertaining to the details of your claim

Can I Resubmit my Claim with Additional Information?

Yes, in many cases, you can resubmit your claim with additional information. If the denial was due to missing or incomplete information, providing the necessary details can help reconsideration. Ensure that you follow the insurer’s guidelines for resubmitting claims and meet any specified deadlines.

How Can I Appeal the Denial?

If your insurance claim was denied, the following steps can help in the process of appealing the decision:

  • Review the Denial Letter – Understand the reason for the denial as stated in the letter from the insurance company.
  • Gather Information – Collect all relevant documents, including the policy, claim details, and any supporting evidence.
  • Contact Your Insurer – Reach out to your insurance company to discuss the denial and inquire about the appeals process.
  • Submit a Formal Appeal – Prepare a written appeal with clear and concise reasons why you believe the denial should be overturned.
  • Follow Up – Stay in communication with your insurer throughout the process and provide any additional information they request.

Should I Work with an Attorney to Get My Claim Resolved?

Some reasons for an insurance claim denial may be straightforward and reasonable, such as a missed premium payment. However, if you feel that the insurance company has unfairly denied your claim, and they are not responding appropriately to your appeal request, working with an attorney may be the best course of action.

Working with an attorney at Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd. can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • Expertise: Our attorneys specialize in insurance law and have a deep understanding of the legal intricacies involved in insurance claim denials. They can navigate complex policies and regulations to build a strong case.
  • Negotiation Skills: We are skilled negotiators. Because of this, we can work with the insurance company on your behalf, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
  • Documentation and Presentation: We know what information and evidence are crucial to a successful appeal, so we can help present the necessary documentation in a compelling manner.
  • Legal Recourse: If the appeal process is unsuccessful, we can advise on further legal options, such as filing a lawsuit against the insurer. This step may be necessary to protect your rights and seek the compensation you believe you are entitled to.
  • Reduced Stress: Dealing with an insurance claim denial can be stressful. Working with our team allows you to offload the legal complexities and focus on other aspects of recovery.
  • Increased Success Rate: Appealing a denial can be complex, and many people do not have the capacity to achieve the outcome they desire. Oftentimes, those who seek our legal representation have a higher success rate in appealing denials compared to those who navigate the process on their own.

If you are dealing with an unfair insurance claim denial and you are seeking experienced legal guidance, contact us at 847-223-1500 to learn how we can help.

4 Newly Enacted Illinois Laws Employers Must Know for 2024

Employers take note – There are several new Illinois laws that went into effect on January 1, 2024 that relate to employment. Make sure to stay compliant!

New IL employment laws 2024

Legal obligations are constantly changing in the workplace. And, of course, employers are expected to keep track of these changes and abide by them. There are several new Illinois laws that went into effect on January 1, 2024 that relate to employment so we wanted to bring a few to the attention of IL employers. One addresses earnings, while the others pertain to time off that employees are now legally entitled to. Here’s what employers need to know:

Minimum Wage

The state of Illinois is slowly making its way up to the goal of a $15 per hour minimum wage. Although this law was technically passed in 2019, Illinois will see an increase in the minimum wage to $14 for 2024. It should be noted that the city of Chicago already meets, and in some cases exceeds, the targeted minimum hourly wage. For example, smaller businesses with fewer than 21 employees have a $15 minimum wage. Those companies with 21 or more employees are required to pay $15.80.

Paid Leave for All Workers Act (820 ILCS 192/)

This is one of the Illinois laws that will likely have the most impact on Illinois employees. This law establishes a minimum paid leave standard for all workers in Illinois. According to the law, workers are entitled to up to 5 days (40 hours) of paid leave per 12-month period. Workers earn 1 hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked. Additionally, they can use the accrued paid time off for any reason and do not have to provide a specific reason to their employer.

Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act (820 ILCS 156/)

This law states that employees who experience the loss of a child (including biological, adopted, foster, step child or legal ward) by suicide or homicide may take unpaid time off to deal with their loss.  Large employers must allow up to 12 weeks leave, while smaller employers must allow up to 6 weeks.

Employee Blood and Organ Donation Leave Act (820 ILCS 149/)

This act states that employers with more than 51 employees are required to provide eligible employees with one hour every 56 days to donate blood. Additionally, employers must provide employees with up to 10 days of paid leave in any 12-month period to serve as an organ donor.

Work With Our Team to Stay Compliant with Illinois Laws

There are a number of caveats to these laws and not every law applies to every employer. Not sure how these new Illinois laws apply to your organization? Contact Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd. to schedule a consultation. Our attorneys are well-versed in employment law and our business clients rely on us to help them navigate new changes as they come up in order to safeguard their interests. Reach out to 847-223-1500 to learn more about our business services and to make an appointment.

Expert Advice on the Important First Step in Starting a New Business

In our continuing interview series, attorney Bob Churchill discusses important issues to consider when choosing a business structure as well as successfully starting a new business.

new business structure

A new year is here and that often brings about new beginnings and opportunities. For those who are planning on starting a new business, there are a lot of issues to consider in order to set your business up for success, right from the start. One of the most important factors to consider is deciding on the correct business structure for your new business.

In our continuing interview series, we have asked our attorneys to share important advice on topics they are passionate about, as well as share some information about their own personal life and career. Here, Bob Churchill discusses important issues to consider when choosing a business structure as well as successfully starting a new business.

What are the most common types of business structures?

There are three basic business structures. The first is sole proprietorship. This is a business with only one owner. The second is a partnership. This is a business with two or more partners. And the third is corporate, either as a stock corporation or a limited liability corporation (L.L.C.). There are different levels of structure, liability protection and taxation for each of the three.

Why is choosing the right business structure important?

The structure should match the type of business being transacted and the need for liability protection. Risk adverse businesses usually choose the corporate options.

What is the best way for a new business owner to decide which business structure is best for their company?

When setting up a new business it is best to discuss with an attorney the ownership of the business, the risks of the operation of the business and the need for tax treatment. This should be balanced with the set-up costs and the ongoing expenses required to keep the business in the proper structure.

What is your best piece of advice for someone who is just starting out with a new business?

Start out with a greater amount of money (capital) than you think necessary to open the business. The majority of new businesses do not survive five years. Not only does one have to be good at their business, but one has to be good at “ business.” Handling accounts receivable, obtaining correct insurance, dealing with employees, calculating taxes, leasing property, starting utilities, and promoting the business are all important aspects of “business” that have nothing to do with making your product or providing your service.

What is one of your favorite memories of a client that you represented?

Throughout my 50 years in the legal profession, I have had thousands of interesting clients, each with a story of their own. One of my favorite stories is of the lady who was three times widowed. The second and third husbands each had two children from previous marriages, but she never had children. Each husband left everything to her.

Every few months she changed her will. She always named only one of her stepchildren, but never the same as the last one named. Over time, each one had been her favorite, and the previous one had lost favor.

One day she called and said that she wanted to change her will again and quickly. So, the will was changed. A week later she died. Perhaps she had a premonition.  Since I had been named as executor, I attended the funeral. After the funeral, one of the stepchildren asked to see me in private. He wanted to know when we were going to “read” the will, because he knew that she had left everything to him. She had shown him a copy of the will with only his name on it. I told him we didn’t “read” wills anymore, but that I would send him a copy.

On the way out the door of the funeral home, another of the stepchildren asked when the reading of the will would be, as he knew that the decedent had left everything to him. She had shown him a copy of the will with only his name on it. I told him we didn’t “read” wills anymore, but that I would send him a copy.

When the third and fourth stepchild called me with the same story, I knew there would be a problem.

I sent a copy of the will to each of them. The phone lit up with angry calls from people who decried how they had run her errands, taken her to dinner, spent money on lavish gifts, invited her over to their houses for holidays and always responded to every request she had, because upon her death they expected to receive everything she had. But that was not to be, for, you see, in her Last Will and Testament, she left everything to charity.

Working with Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd

Clearly, we have many interesting clients, each with an interesting story of their own. And at Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd, we provide each client with personalized service and attention in order to accomplish their individual goals. Whether that is for starting a new business, providing skilled litigation representation, assisting with real estate transactions, or customizing estate documents (as frequently as needed).  Contact us at 847-223-1500 to schedule a meeting.

Practical Steps to Take Following the Death of a Loved One

Mary Lee Berresheim is experienced in estate and probate law and has helped many clients navigate the difficult issues surrounding the death of a loved one. Here, she shares her practical advice on the best ways to proceed during this time.

death of a loved one

Losing someone special can be an incredibly difficult and challenging time. Emotions following a death can overwhelm your thought process and suddenly you don’t know what needs to be done or where to begin.

In this special series, we have asked some of our attorneys to answer some questions and share their insight on topics that mean a lot to them. Mary Lee Berresheim is experienced in estate and probate law and has helped many clients navigate the difficult issues surrounding the death of a loved one. Here, she shares her practical advice on the best ways to proceed during this time.

What is the first thing you should do upon learning of the death of a loved one?    

The first thing to do is to obtain a death certificate. The funeral home will take care of this for you and will ask you how many death certificates you will need. You should request at least 10. Then you will need to go through the Decedent’s paperwork. The first thing to look for is a Will and/or Trust or any Estate Planning documents that the individual might have executed prior to their death. If you find the original Will, it must be filed within thirty days of the person’s death. The Will should be filed in the County in which the individual resided at the time of their death.

What are the most important steps a person should take when a family member passes?  

Once the Will has been filed and the estate planning located, you should look through all of the Decedent’s paperwork to determine what assets they owned.  For example, you will need to identify what real estate the individual owned and how the title was held. Then you will collect bank statements to determine if the individual had bank accounts and if so, with what banks and did they hold title with anyone else.  Also, did the individual have a pension or a 401(k) and/or any sort of brokerage account. If so, you should contact that financial advisor or the company and advise them of the death of the individual. Most of these kinds of accounts will have named beneficiaries and the brokerage or company will send the appropriate forms to the beneficiaries to collect these assets.

What are some examples of when an attorney can help during the process following a loved one’s death

Following the death of a loved one, you should always contact an attorney to help you to determine if the estate will need to be probated or not. If the value of the individual’s entire estate is less than $100,000, you will not need to probate but will be able to transfer any assets by a small estate affidavit. If the estate is over $100,000 you will have to file a probate action with the Court. You must be represented by an attorney in this type of court proceeding.

What is the best advice you could offer someone to make the process of dealing with a loved one’s passing easier?  

Contact an attorney as soon as possible to give you advice as to how to handle the collection and disbursement of assets. If you try to take on some of these tasks by yourself and are not successful, don’t keep spinning your wheels. Schedule a consultation with an experienced probate attorney and get the guidance you need to handle things in the most advantageous and efficient way possible. Most attorneys will offer you a free consultation and even if you have to pay for an hour or so of time, it will be well worth it in the long run.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?  

The death of a loved one is a difficult and stressful time. Being able to explain the process to people and to assure them that they can get through this. Letting them know they aren’t alone in this process and that we will help them get through it and will be there to answer their questions seems to be an amazing comfort to most people. It makes my day when a spouse or child breathes that sigh of relief that at least in one way they can bring some sort of order to the chaos they are feeling.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?  

I enjoy spending time with friends whether it is just playing cards or discovering a new restaurant. But I especially enjoy spending time with my three granddaughters.


While the death of a loved one is difficult and can be extremely stressful, we are here to help make this time more manageable. If you need assistance or would like to schedule a consultation, contact our Grayslake office at 847-223-1500.

Estate Plan Basics Everyone Should Understand: An Expert Explains

Amber Desselles specializes in helping her clients develop the right individual estate plan for their specific needs. Here is what she would like people to understand when it comes to preparing an effective estate plan.

estate plan basics

Estate planning is one of the most important ways to protect your loved ones and plan for their future. Unfortunately, many people do not understand the basic concepts involved in preparing an estate plan. In fact, many do not even realize that the benefits apply to everyone, regardless of age or financial status.

At Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton, & Van Donselaar, Ltd, we have asked some of our established attorneys to answer some questions in order to share some insight on topics that they are passionate about. Amber Desselles specializes in helping her clients develop the right individual estate plan for their specific needs. Here is what she would like people to understand when it comes to preparing an effective estate plan. 

What exactly is an estate plan and who should have one?

An estate plan is a set of legal documents that ensure your wishes are adhered to after death or incapacitation. Your estate plan sets out what you would like done with your assets after death, as well as who you would like to be in charge of that distribution. Your estate plan should also include instructions for who you would want to manage your health and financial affairs upon your incapacitation. This is done through powers of attorney. Having an estate plan in place is important for everyone because anything you do not legally document you are leaving up to the courts to decide. Only an experienced attorney should prepare your estate planning documents to ensure drafting and implementation is effective and no issues arise after it’s too late to rectify.

What is the best way to get started on an estate plan?

The best way to get started on an estate plan is to meet with an attorney who practices in estate planning so that we can determine which documents will need to be implemented to ensure all of your goals are met. Some things to think about before your meeting are:

  1. Who are my beneficiaries, and what do I want them to receive
  2. Are there any limitations or restrictions I want to include?
  3. Who would care for my minor children in the event of my death or incapacity?
  4. Who do I want to manage my affairs in the event I am unable to?
  5. Who do I want to be in charge of selling my assets and distributing my estate?
  6. What assets do I have and how are they titled?

What is the most important information you think people should know about estate planning?

Having an estate plan is important for everyone, regardless of your net worth or what assets you own. Parents should have powers of attorney drafted for their children upon their 18th birthday to ensure they retain rights if their child is injured or in an accident. Parents with minor children should have a legal Will that nominates who they want to act as guardian of their children if something happens to them before their children reach the age of majority. Again, anything you do not legally document you are allowing the courts to decide for you.

What do you enjoy most about helping people with their estate planning needs? 

The most rewarding thing for me is seeing the relief on clients’ faces once they have everything signed and in place. Knowing that their families and loved ones are protected brings a sense of comfort that is almost palpable.

What is one fun fact about yourself that you would like to share?

In my free time I like to create jewelry and art with my two daughters, Zoey and Myra.

We appreciate Amber and the great concern she has for her clients, as well as her ability to prepare the right estate plan to protect their interests and well-being. Contact our office at 847-223-1500 to schedule an appointment to meet with Amber and learn more about all of the benefits of a carefully-crafted estate plan.

8 Crucial Legal Considerations for Landlords in Illinois

Landlords must adhere to specific laws and regulations in order to remain legally compliant. Therefore, understanding these legal obligations is crucial in order to maintain a successful landlord-tenant relationship and avoid potential legal disputes.

Legal considerations for landlords

Being a landlord can be lucrative and rewarding. But it also comes with many legal responsibilities and considerations that can be complex to navigate. In the state of Illinois, landlords must adhere to specific laws and regulations in order to keep their tenant arrangement legally compliant. Therefore, understanding these legal obligations is crucial in order to maintain a successful landlord-tenant relationship and avoid potential legal disputes.

Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act

The Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act outlines the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Landlords must comply with this act to ensure they are not in violation of the law. Becoming familiar with the provisions of this act is essential for conducting business in a legal and ethical manner.

Lease Agreements and Disclosures

Landlords in Illinois must provide tenants with a written lease agreement that includes essential details such as the duration of the lease, rent amount, and any rules or regulations specific to the property. Additionally, they are required to disclose specific information, such as the presence of lead-based paint, to tenants as per federal law. Changes to a lease should always be agreed upon in writing, in order to avoid uncertainty and to protect your rights in the event of a disagreement.

Security Deposits

Illinois law regulates the handling of security deposits. Landlords are required to provide tenants with a written statement detailing the terms and conditions related to the security deposit. Furthermore, they must return the security deposit within a specified timeframe after the termination of the lease, minus any lawful deductions for damages or unpaid rent.

Maintenance and Repairs

Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that the rental property is maintained in a habitable condition. This includes providing essential services such as heat, water, and sanitation. Promptly addressing maintenance requests and ensuring the property meets local building codes are critical to upholding this legal requirement.

Eviction Procedures

In the unfortunate event that eviction becomes necessary, landlords must follow the specific legal procedures outlined by Illinois Eviction Law. This includes providing tenants with proper notice and adhering to the required eviction process. Failure to follow these procedures can lead to legal consequences and delays in the eviction process.

Discrimination Laws

When it comes to tenant selection, landlords must adhere to the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on factors such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. Understanding and complying with these laws is crucial to avoid legal repercussions and maintain a fair and inclusive rental process.

Insurance and Liability

Obtaining the appropriate insurance coverage, such as landlord insurance and liability insurance, is essential for protecting both the property and the landlord’s assets. Adequate insurance coverage can help mitigate financial risks associated with property damage, liability claims, or unexpected events such as natural disasters.

Local Regulations and Ordinances

In addition to any state or federal laws, landlords should also be aware of any specific local regulations or ordinances that may apply to their rental property. These can include zoning regulations, property maintenance codes, and rental licensing requirements. Staying informed about these local laws is essential for ensuring compliance with all relevant legal obligations.

Illinois Landlords Should Always Work With a Trusted Attorney

As demonstrated above, there are many laws in place to protect both landlords and tenants. Understanding and following these laws is essential to be successful as a landlord. The team at Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd. can help to protect your investment and ensure a successful experience as a landlord. Our experienced attorneys work with landlords to help enforce the terms of their lease agreements and can represent them all the way through litigation if necessary. Contact us at 847-223-1500 for additional information or to schedule a consultation.

4 Unfortunate Consequences of Failing to Prepare a Will Before Passing

must prepare a will

The failure to prepare a will before passing can have significant and far-reaching consequences, both legally and emotionally.  When a loved one passes, it can certainly create emotional challenges. But the absence of a well-prepared will can complicate matters further, leading to potentially distressing consequences for family and beneficiaries. Thinking about mortality and estate planning can be uncomfortable. However, not preparing this important document can affect both the distribution of your assets as well as the emotional well-being of those left behind.

Legal Complications and Delays

Without a clear directive from the deceased, the legal process of distributing assets becomes complex and time-consuming. The absence of a will often leads to disputes among family members, requiring the intervention of the court to settle the distribution of the estate. This can result in significant delays and legal expenses, consuming both time and resources that could have been used more effectively by the beneficiaries.

Unintended Beneficiaries

Without a will, the estate may be distributed according to the decision of a court. This distribution may not align with the wishes of the deceased, potentially leaving loved ones or intended beneficiaries without their rightful share. Additionally, distant relatives or individuals with no emotional ties to the deceased may be entitled to a portion of the estate, contrary to the deceased’s intentions.

Emotional Strain and Family Fights

The absence of a clear and comprehensive will can lead to conflicts and tensions among family members, exacerbating the already challenging period of mourning. Disagreements over asset distribution can strain relationships and create rifts that may take years to repair. The emotional toll of navigating these disputes often overshadows the grieving process, leading to prolonged distress and discord within the family.

Unplanned Guardianship for the Kids

A will designates who will assume guardianship of minor children in the event that neither parent is still living. Without a will, the court will make the determination. One of a parent’s greatest responsibilities is naming a trusted guardian to care for their child(ren) in their absence to ensure their well-being. A court will typically choose a guardian based on the next closest kin, but that choice may not be at all what is best for the kids.

Consult Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd for a Will and Other Estate Planning Needs

Whatever the size of your estate, you should have the final say in how it is distributed. Our professional team has decades of practical experience helping our clients prepare for the future and the security of their loved ones through individualized estate plans, will preparation, trust formation and more. Contact us at 847-223-1500 to begin the process of drafting the most advantageous plan for you and your family.


Small Business Owners Need Expert Guidance for these 5 Common Legal Issues

Small business legal issues

Starting and running a small business can be exciting and rewarding, but it comes with its fair share of challenges and risks. One crucial responsibility that often requires professional guidance is knowing how to properly navigate legal issues. The legal issues a small business owner faces can be complex, and it is important to address them effectively in order to protect the company. The following 5 issues can have significant legal implications for a small business without the guidance of a qualified attorney.

Business Formation and Structure

One of the first decisions faced when starting a small business is choosing the right legal structure. This decision will impact liability, taxation, and operational flexibility. Common options include sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations. An attorney can help explain the legal implications of each structure and recommend the one that aligns best with the business goals and circumstances.

Small Business Contracts and Agreements

Contracts are indispensable to a business. From client agreements to vendor contracts, employment agreements to lease agreements, having well-drafted and legally sound contracts is crucial to protecting your business interests. An attorney can assist in drafting, reviewing, and negotiating contracts to ensure your rights are protected and that the terms are favorable to your business.

Intellectual Property Protection

Intellectual property includes trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets, all of which can be vital assets for a small business. Protecting this information is essential to prevent unauthorized use or infringement by others. An attorney can guide you through the process of registering trademarks or copyrights, enforcing your intellectual property rights, and handling any legal disputes that may arise.

Employment Law and HR Compliance

As a small business grows and hires employees, a business owner needs to navigate a complex web of employment laws and regulations. Compliance with employment laws is crucial to avoid costly legal battles. An attorney can help you establish HR policies, ensure compliance with federal and state employment laws, and guide you through issues such as employee contracts, wage and hour matters, discrimination claims, and wrongful termination cases.

Regulatory and Compliance Issues

Small businesses often need to comply with various local, state, and federal regulations, depending on their industry. These regulations can be overwhelming and may change over time. An experienced attorney can help you understand and navigate these regulatory hurdles, ensuring that your business remains in compliance and avoids potential legal issues or penalties.

Protect your Small Business with Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd

Running a small business involves facing a multitude of legal challenges that can be both risky and, at times, overwhelming. Working with the team at Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd. brings an expertise in business law that can make all the difference in protecting your interests, mitigating risks, and ensuring the long-term success of your enterprise. In fact, having one of our legal experts in your corner can save you time, money, and stress, allowing you to focus on growing your business and meeting your overall goals. Contact us at 847-223-1500 to meet with one of our experienced attorneys in order to safeguard your business.

Avoid These 4 Common Fraud Claims During a Real Estate Transaction

Real estate transactions do not always go smoothly, and when fraud is involved, it is essential to have the right attorney representing you. Here are some examples of common types of fraud claims that can arise during a transaction.

Fraud in real estate

Real estate transactions are complex undertakings involving a range of legal issues, contracts, and negotiations. Buyers, sellers and agents all hope for a smooth process, but there are times when fraud or breaches of contract can cause problems during the proceedings. In such situations, it is essential to work with the right attorney. Here are some examples of common types of fraud claims that can arise during a transaction.

Misrepresentation of Property

Misrepresentation is misstating the facts about a property during a real estate transaction. For example,  the property listing might claim that the property has a new roof or electrical system, or might exaggerate the square footage of the property. If the seller has provided false information about a property, the buyer may be able to file a fraud claim.

Failure to Disclose Defects

The Illinois Real Property Act requires sellers to disclose any known defects in a property that could affect its value or safety to potential buyers. This could include issues like past flooding, code violations or boundary disputes. Failure to do so can result in serious legal consequences. If a buyer discovers undisclosed defects after closing, such as a hidden termite infestation or structural issues, the seller can be held accountable for their omission.

Contract Fraud

Real estate transactions are primarily governed by contracts, and any breach of contract can lead to disputes. In some cases, a contract breach can also include allegations of fraud. Contract fraud occurs when one party to a contract uses information that is false, misleading, or deceitful in order to persuade the other party to sign, or that results in them signing without fully understanding the obligations or risks. For example, one person might mislead another by telling them they need to sign their property over in order to avoid foreclosure. Fraud claims of this type often result in the contract being voided.

Financing Fraud

Mortgage fraud can occur when a buyer or lender deliberately misrepresents information on a mortgage application. For example, a buyer might exaggerate their income or assets, while a lender may try to hide unfavorable loan terms. In some cases, a corrupt appraiser may intentionally undervalue a property in order to assist an investor to purchase at a low price, or overvalue a property in order to increase the selling price and related commissions. These fraudulent actions can lead to severe legal consequences for all parties involved.

How our Attorneys Assist in Resolving Fraud Claims

There are a number of advantages to working with one of the experienced attorneys at Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd. if you discover a fraudulent action during a real estate transaction.

  • Legal Expertise – Our attorneys have a deep understanding of the complex laws and regulations governing property transactions. They can interpret contracts, assess the legality of claims, and provide expert guidance.
  • Negotiation Skills – Our attorneys are skilled negotiators who can work on your behalf to reach favorable resolutions, whether through settlement or litigation.
  • Protection of your Interests – Throughout the entire process, our main objective is to protect your interests and ensure you’re not taken advantage of during a real estate transaction.

Real estate transactions do not always go smoothly, and when fraud is involved, it is essential to have the right attorney representing you. In Illinois, fraud cases must be proved with a higher degree of certainty than is required in other civil lawsuits. Therefore, experience matters if you want to see a successful outcome. Contact our office at 847-223-1500 to learn more or to schedule a consultation.

Real Estate Development: 6 Legal Considerations for Developers in Illinois

The path to success in real estate development requires careful navigation of many legal complexities. Explore these essential legal considerations that Illinois developers should be aware of, to ensure a smooth and legally compliant development process.

Real estate development

Real estate development is an exciting and potentially lucrative venture, especially in a state like Illinois. From residential subdivisions to commercial complexes, developers play a critical role in shaping the urban landscape. However, the path to success in real estate development is riddled with legal complexities that require careful navigation. Therefore, we need to explore some essential legal considerations that Illinois developers should be aware of, to ensure a smooth and legally compliant development process.

Choosing the Right Business Entity

One of the first decisions a developer needs to make is selecting the appropriate business entity. For example, should you establish a limited liability company (LLC), a corporation, or a partnership? Each entity type has unique legal implications, affecting taxation, liability, and management.

Land Use and Zoning Regulations

Understanding the local zoning regulations is crucial for any real estate development project. Different municipalities in Illinois have varying zoning ordinances, which dictate what type of structures can be built and where. Complying with these regulations is essential to avoid delays, fines, or even project shutdowns.

Environmental Concerns and Due Diligence

Real estate developers must conduct thorough due diligence to assess potential environmental hazards on their development sites. Illinois has specific regulations regarding environmental assessments and remediation of contaminated properties. Failure to comply with these laws could lead to costly legal consequences.

Contract Negotiations

Developers engage in numerous contracts throughout a project’s lifecycle, including agreements with contractors, architects, suppliers, and lenders. Skilled negotiation and careful drafting are vital to protect your interests and ensure that all parties fulfill their obligations.

Financing and Tax Implications

Securing financing for real estate development projects can be complex. Developers need to be aware of various financing options, such as loans, grants, and tax incentives. Moreover, understanding the tax implications of different financing structures is essential to optimize returns and avoid unnecessary tax burdens.

Construction Law Compliance

Navigating construction law is crucial for developers overseeing the building process. Compliance with building codes, safety standards, and labor laws is paramount to avoid legal issues and ensure the project’s success.

Working with Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd for your Real Estate Development Project

It is clear that choosing the right attorney for your real estate development project is crucial for its overall success. When you work with our team you can expect us to:

  • Help you weigh the pros and cons and choose the entity that best aligns with your development goals
  • Guide you through the zoning process and secure the necessary permits
  • Help you identify and mitigate potential environmental risks.
  • Review and negotiate contracts on your behalf, safeguarding your rights and minimizing disputes
  • Provide invaluable guidance on financing and tax matters, helping you make informed decisions
  • Help you adhere to construction regulations and address any potential disputes that may arise during the construction phase

Contact us today at 847-223-1500 to schedule an appointment with our experienced real estate team for help navigating these complex legal issues and to safeguard your investment throughout the development process.

Cheers! The Grayslake Craft Beer Festival is Back for 2023

The annual Grayslake Craft Beer Festival is returning for 2023 and we are proud sponsors! Get the event details here.

Grayslake Craft Beer Festival 2023

Craft beer lovers rejoice! It’s that wonderful time of year when the Grayslake Chamber of Commerce, along with the Exchange Club of Grayslake, host the annual Grayslake Craft Beer Festival. And Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd is excited to be a major sponsor of this year’s event. Whether you are a craft beer expert or newbie, there will be selections to satisfy every palate!

Craft Beer Festival Details

Date:  Saturday, September 16, 2023

Time: 1:00PM – 5:00PM (VIP admission is available beginning at 12:00PM)

Location: Grayslake festival grounds, 33 S. Whitney Street in Downtown Grayslake

**This is a strictly 21+ event. Nobody under the age of 21, including young children or babies, will be admitted. Pets are also prohibited from the festival grounds.

Ticket Information

Ticket pricing until September 15, 2023:

VIP – $80 Includes admission to the venue from 12:00PM – 5:00PM, samples of craft beer, access to the VIP lounge area with free appetizers and a separate restroom, plus a commemorative beverage glass and festival program

General Admission – $45 includes admission to the venue from 1:00Pm – 5:00PM, samples of craft beer plus a commemorative beverage glass and festival program

Pricing on September 16, 2023 (day of event)

VIP – $100

General Admission – $60

Purchase your tickets here: https://events.beerfests.com/e/grayslakebeerfest/tickets

Great Beer for a Great Cause

Not only will you find an incredible variety of craft beer selections from many amazing local breweries, but you will be contributing to a good cause as well. That’s because the net proceeds from this event, as is the case every year, will go to support scholarships for Grayslake students. In fact, in 2023, $40,000 was awarded to the community from the Craft Beer Festival. As if you needed another reason to come out and enjoy the day!

With all the excitement brewing, you definitely don’t want to miss out on this fun event. Secure your tickets early and get ready to raise your glass, savor exceptional tastes and make lasting memories. We’ll see you at the 2023 Grayslake Craft Beer Festival – an event that’s so much more than beer! For additional event information, go to https://www.grayslakebeerfest.com/


Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd is your Source for Legal Assistance in the Grayslake Area

Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd proudly supports our community and has been an established source of legal guidance in Grayslake and the surrounding areas for over 100 years.   If you are a business owner, we can help with a wide range of services such as partnerships, succession planning, financing, litigation and more.  Individuals benefit from our expertise in estate planning and will preparation, real estate and zoning assistance, landlord-tenant disputes, personal lawsuits and so many other legal services.  Learn more about our professional areas of practice HERE and see why we remain one of the area’s most trusted legal sources.

© Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar 2024 2 S. Whitney Street, Grayslake, IL 60030 Phone: (847) 223-1500   FAX: (847) 223-1700