Can You Transfer Ownership of a House in a Will?

Can You Transfer Ownership of a House in a Will?

One major goal of creating a will is to transfer property to individuals who survive a deceased person, typically family members or close friends. The property falls into two principal categories: real and personal. Real property consists of buildings and land, and personal property includes tangible objects such as jewelry and vehicles as well as intangible items such as cash, stocks, and bonds. Ownership of real property, for example, a house, can be transferred through a will as a bequest or gift.

Transferring Ownership of a House through a Will

Title to a house transferred in a will can only pass to a recipient after the probate process has been finalized. The will’s executor, the person assigned to carry out the terms of the will, initiates the process by filing the will with the local county probate court. The probate judge then authorizes the executor to follow the instructions spelled out in the will. The executor first creates a record of all the estate’s liabilities and assets, then takes care of the estate’s debts, and finally allocates property to the beneficiaries consistent with the terms of the will. If the house has a mortgage, the beneficiary acquires the property along with the mortgage.

Transferring the Title to the Beneficiary’s Name

After the house is obtained, the beneficiary is required to have the title transferred to his or her name. The transfer process varies from state to state, but most often involves applying for a transfer of title with the office of the local county recorder, which usually necessitates paying fees, supplying a certified copy of the previous owner’s death certificate, and sometimes the title to the house.

Since probate can be extremely time-consuming and complex, you may choose to transfer your house in a way that avoids having to go to probate court. Also, depending on the number of your assets, your estate could be required to pay estate taxes.

Bell & Shah Law Is Here to Help

No matter which method you choose to transfer ownership of your house, it’s important to consider the various conditions and possible complications before beginning the estate planning process. The knowledgeable attorneys at Bell & Shah Law, LLC can assist you in creating a plan that will best suit your needs and those of your family. Call us today for a free consultation.

What Goes Into a Remote Closing and Could It Help You?

What Goes Into a Remote Closing and Could It Help You?

When unable to attend an in-person for the purpose of buying a home, you can carry out the entire process from any location on the planet. Thanks to recent technological advances used to conduct virtual meetings, such as Zoom and Skype, and DocuSign for securely transferring critical documents, doing a remote closing is easier than ever.

You Can Do All In-Person Procedures Remotely

Traditional closings call for many moving pieces, including:

  • Notarized copies of all documents from the builders or title company’s office
  • Purchasing information about the home
  • Appraisals and home inspection documentation

After completing the closing, the courthouse must receive copies of all contractual data. Handling these activities remotely requires some extra time and energy. However, it’s extremely helpful for those whose schedules don’t permit in-person transactions. Many buyers today already carry out remote closings.

You Can Also Do Remote Notarizations, Document Signings, and Payments

Most documents for real estate deals require notarization. However, you can handle notarizations without having to hold in-person meetings. For instance, in a virtual meeting via Zoom, individuals can show ID to a notary, who can then scan and fax the documents with the appropriate signature. You can also handle virtual conferences in conjunction with services like DocuSign. They offer options like eSignature, which is a system for signing documents electronically on various devices.

Where a traditional closing may require a cashier’s check or certified funds, virtual closings often use wire transfers. The technological advances of recent decades now allow almost all such business transactions to be accomplished virtually. However, it’s important to consult the professionals involved in a given case to fully understand how to complete a virtual closing.

For More Help with Remote Closings, Contact Bell & Shah Law Today

For top-notch help in carrying out a remote closing, contact Bell & Shaw Law, LLC today. We will have you discuss your situation with one of our knowledgeable real estate lawyers, who can assist you with completing all stages of the process.

Terms You Need to Know Before Having a Trust Written Up

Terms You Need to Know Before Having a Trust Written Up

Trusts are excellent estate planning instruments when their circumstances are set up properly. However, most people have scant knowledge of trusts and believe their estate has no need for one. In most cases, creating a trust may be well worth considering under the right circumstances, including:

  • If your personal net worth totals at least $100,000
  • You have considerable real estate assets
  • You have highly specific ideas about when and in what ways you want your estate to be allocated when you pass

When reading over a trust document, it can seem like it’s in a foreign language. This is often due to the profusion of obscure words and complex concepts. If you want to decide whether a trust is right for your situation and lack knowledge of the common legal verbiage involved, the following is a brief introduction to some key terms used to write trusts.


This is the person or group that assigns the property in a trust to the beneficiaries. The grantor is also commonly called the “trustor” or the “settler”.


The trustee is the individual, corporation, or combination of the two that manages a trust’s property. They must do this in line with the trust’s provisions. Trusts can simultaneously have several trustees. Plus, they often contain specific conditions for choosing successors to step in when an initial trustee quits, is eliminated or passes away.


The beneficiary is the person or group that gains benefit from the trust. In cases with several beneficiaries, it is not required that they all have identical interests in the trust. In fact, a beneficiary does not even need to have been born yet at the time of the trust’s creation.


The trust’s corpus, or principal, is the property that goes into the trust either at the time the text is generated or at some point after. The income produced within the trust that is not allocated may become part of the corpus, according to the stipulations of the trust. The corpus can include capital, stocks, real estate, or other property.


A trust’s situs establishes the precise laws that the trust must follow. Typically, the situs relates to the physical location of the grantor or the greater part of the corpus. The situs is a key factor to consider because it decides the laws, regulations, and taxes applicable to the trust.

If you wish to consult with a knowledgeable attorney about whether a trust is right for you, get in touch with Bell & Shaw Law, LLC today. We would love to talk about your situation and help make the process easier. Our highly experienced team can help you produce a trust that is set up properly plus meets all of your individual needs.

Understanding Bylaws before Buying a New House

Understanding Bylaws before Buying a New House

Purchasing a home in a development with a homeowners association (HOA) can look like a wonderful idea until you violate one of the HOA’s bylaws, which are designed to maintain an orderly community and prevent members from actions that might bring down property values. However, these rules also control members’ decisions in modifying their property and other areas and are at times seen as encroaching on individual freedom. Bylaw violations can result in hefty fines for those who fail to follow the rules.

Fines are regulated by state laws and are intended to be reasonable, with their purpose being to generate compliance, not income for the association. Whatever their function may be, it’s important to understand an HOA’s bylaws, and the following are some steps to take before joining one of these communities.

Study the Contract

If you own a vehicle that bears your company’s name, and your HOA’s bylaws forbid that, you’ll have to either buy another vehicle or live somewhere else. Don’t be concerned that the documents are legal contracts. Appropriately written HOA texts should contain wording that any layperson can understand.

The covenants that delineate what can and can’t be done with the property are filed with the local county, so potential buyers can study them before deciding if they want to live there. However, HOA bylaws, which may also contain limitations, are not submitted to the government, so they need to be acquired from the homeowners association.

Learn about HOA Fees and How the Money is Used

HOA fees typically levied as yearly dues, cover the cost of insurance, landscape maintenance, and other communal operating costs. Check to see if the dues are capped and how frequently they can be increased. It’s also a good idea to learn about the association’s financial reserves, checking if the reserves are fully funded and if they contain enough money to cover emergencies.

Look into Insurance Coverage

HOA insurance should cover disasters such as fires and tornadoes, but make sure to learn how much and what type of insurance your HOA has. For example, the outside of your property should be covered by the HOA. Insurance can also protect an association against lawsuits.

Complaint Resolution

An HOA’s bylaws establish the number of seats on the board of directors, and this number may be influenced by the developers. The fewer board members, the better the chances are that developers will have disputes ruled in their favor.

The contract should detail how to file complaints, which is best done in writing, along with documentation, such as bills for work that the HOA should cover.

If you’re planning to buy a home in a community with an HOA, give us a call anytime at Bell & Shaw Law, LLC. We’ll be glad to assist you with any questions you may have about the ins and outs of HOA bylaws.

What to Know about a Closing Settlement Statement in Illinois

What to Know about a Closing Settlement Statement in Illinois

A closing settlement statement often completes a real estate transaction. You can also call them a settlement sheet or a HUD-1 statement. These documents present a comprehensive itemized listing of the funds and credits exchanged in the transaction, along with the parties by whom and to whom the money and credits are to be paid. Closing agents prepare and write up closing statements or settlement sheets. They are professional individuals that operate mainly on the part of buyers by communicating the selling interest from buyers to sellers, guaranteeing the systematic transmission of legal titles from the sellers to the buyers in conducting the closing procedures. The sheets delineate the final terms and costs of mortgages. Closing settlement statements are very important when it comes to closing on some types of purchases. It is vital that you study them carefully before signing.

What to Include in an Illinois Closing Settlement Statement

An Illinois closing settlement statement covers real estate transactions where the transaction is all cash or owner financing. After completing the closing statement, closing agents will review, verify, and sign the documents. The buyer and selling also sign, recognizing acceptance of all financial aspects of the transaction. Some of the expenses recorded on the closing statement include the following:

  • Agents’ commissions
  • Mortgage insurance costs
  • Deposits of property taxes
  • Expenses related to the loan origination process
  • Appraisal and mortgage broker fees, and
  • Inspection costs.

Fees for obtaining the borrower’s credit report, for title searches, and for the services of attorneys, notaries, and closing agents may also be on the sheet.

For transactions employing closing settlement statements, buyers and sellers typically meet with a professional such as an attorney, a real estate agent, or a closing agent to look over the statements and make sure that all the details are accurate and acceptable. Even after completely preparing the statement, last-minute changes require both the buyer and seller need to review for correctness.

Trust Bell & Shah Law to Help

Contact Bell & Shah Law, LLC today for help with your Illinois closing settlement statement. Our experienced real estate attorneys look forward to hearing from you.

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