How real property taxes are calculated in Cook County

Cook County, Illinois residents will get a big surprise in their mailboxes around July 1.  Just in time to celebrate the nation’s birthday, the Cook County Treasurer will come looking for the 2nd installment of 2011 real estate taxes (remember, property taxes are paid in arrears).  This year will mark the first time in decades that the bills are not tardy.  Most property owners will wonder why their bills are going up when the values of their homes are going down.  Its easy to see why once you know the process used by the to calculate a tax bill. Continue reading

Illinois re-writes Medicaid eligibility rules

Without much advance fanfare, the State of Illinois has passed a law intended to close Illinois’ $2.7 billion dollar Medicaid funding gap.  On June 14, 2012, Governor Quinn signed Public Act 97-689 into law.  Among other things, the law amends the Illinois Public Aid Code to change Medicaid eligibility rules.  The Chicago Sun Times printed a story criticizing the law for “cutting people off of medicaid”.  The law changes medicaid eligibility rules for people who own real estate and suspended the use of “OBRA” pooled trusts (one form of special needs trust) for anyone over age 65 who is not a ward of the public guardian (OPG) or the state guardian (OSG).

HAFA approved or half approved?

Real estate MLS listings often proclaim “HAFA Approved Short-Sale” as a key selling point for a listed short sale property.  HAFA is the “Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative” program.  Part of the program is a process for pre-approving a short sale (a short sale is when a bank with a mortgage releases the mortgage in return for less money than is owed on the loan secured by the real estate).  In theory, HAFA approved short sales should be quicker and less complicated than a standard short sale because the home seller applies to the program in advance and is provided with an approval based upon the seller obtaining a contract to sell at a certain price.  HAFA short sales benefit a seller because, among other things, the Seller can get some relocation funds from the sale and can avoid being pursued for any repayment deficiency.  The trouble is that even if a property is HAFA approved, there may be other parties that have a hand in blocking the sale. Continue reading

All about EINs

An EIN is an “Employer ID Number” issued by the Internal Revenue Service.  (Sometimes, this is referred to as a Federal Employer ID Number or “FEIN”)  EINs are necessary for decedent’s probate estates, non-grantor trusts, corporations, and LLCs. Even single member limited liability companies, which are treated by the IRS as disregarded entities, can obtain an EIN.  The EIN is basically the “social security number” of for entity.

Years ago, if someone wanted an EIN, that person would have to fill out a form ss-4 and mail or fax it in to the IRS and the IRS would mail back the number or, if the number was needed sooner, one could call the IRS and get the number over the phone.  The most common and fast way to get an EIN these days is to apply onlineContinue reading

Cook County “Property Tax Portal” is pretty cool

This April, Cook County unveiled a one-stop source that consolidates information from the Cook County Assessor, Cook County Treasurer, and Cook County Recorder all in one place.  Even better, a search may be done by common address only if you don’t have a PIN number handy.  Kudos to the people running the various Cook County government websites for creating this useful tool.

You can find it here:

Pardon our dust and welcome!

Welcome to the new and improved version of the Reda | Ciprian | Magnone, LLC website.  We’ve redesigned our site to make access to our information easier and to allow us to blog about interesting issues related to our practice and Illinois law.  A big thanks to the boys at who helped us with the website.

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples Remains at Issue

Political notions aside, many unmarried couples, both heterosexual and homosexual, may be at risk of passing their estate in a manner that does not suit their desires. Despite the rapidly changing mores and norms of modern society, increasingly accepting of committed co-habitation among unmarried couples, the estate planning and probate laws are slow reflect these changing standards. Continue reading

The pitfalls of joint tenancy estate planning


Many people utilize the concept of joint assets or joint tenancy to plan their estate without a will or a trust. Because joint assets transfer automatically to the surviving owner upon the death of a co-owner, the assets avoid probate. Assets commonly owned in this way are real estate, bank accounts, and stocks or bonds. For some individuals, under the right circumstances, joint ownership estate planning can be a simple and inexpensive way to plan for asset transfers upon death. For others, however, the results can be disastrous. Continue reading

Do You Really Need a Last Will?


The will is an estate planning tool surrounded by a myriad of myth and misinformation. Many people believe that merely having a will results in lower estate taxes or higher attorney fees. These ideas are false and contribute to the public’s misconception of wills. Simply put, a will is a person’s written direction as to how that person’s property will be distributed upon death. Plenty of smart, famous, and influential people used wills as the centerpiece of their estate plan.  Continue reading