Home & Leisure



Residents in some areas could benefit from trading HOA costs for an increased tax bill

Q: We recently read a reply you gave to a question about a homeowners association (HOA) in Maryland that is having trouble getting people to run for the board.

We live in a Chicago suburb in a community with 26 single-family homes. The town that we live in has told us that we could turn over responsibility for the two retention ponds that we ...Read more

Heir seeks clarity on possible taxes owed for sale of inherited property

Q: I inherited my mother’s home. That part went well, but boy was I uninformed. As I’ve now learned, and Ilyce’s site (ThinkGlink.com ) made this clearer, when one inherits a house:

In my case, my mother died in August 2020, and the trust deeded it to me in September 2021. I then sold it July 2022, since a family was renting it from the ...Read more

Buyers surprised by fees for LP gas service they never used

Q: We purchased a home with liquid propane (LP) gas service to heat the pool. We did not heat the pool and did not use the LP gas at all. Now the gas company wants to charge us for the LP gas tank rental fee. Are we required to pay the tank rental fee and any maintenance costs to maintain the LP gas home system?

A: You pose an interesting ...Read more

Is an appraisal needed for a refinance?

Q: You recently had a column about how to protect your home from someone trying to take out a fraudulent mortgage against it. In the story, you said an appraiser would come inside to view the house. We’ve done several refinances over the years and have never had an appraiser come by and ask to view the inside of the house. Just curious about ...Read more

How do heirs calculate capital gains on inherited property?

Q: I read your recent article on capital gains and how to calculate them. Here’s my issue.

I thought I could shred a whole bunch of receipts accumulated during my ownership of my home. I see the feds are forcing people to sell within two years of a spouse’s death to get the $500,000 capital gains write off. So, I’ll keep the receipts for ...Read more

No need to add child to title with trust in place

Q: Is there any risk, concern or benefit to simply adding a child to title through a quitclaim deed (not replacing homeowner on title, but adding)? This child is the beneficiary and trustee/executor of the revocable living trust already in place. Is a quitclaim deed even necessary?

A: The quick answer to your question is that you likely don’t...Read more

Condo owner seeks to prohibit short-term rentals in four-unit building

Q: I live in a four-unit condominium in Chicago. My understanding is that in a condominium building of this size, only one unit can hold a license for short-term rentals. One owner already has this license but so far hasn’t rented out their unit. This unit owner lives in her unit. I would like to amend our condo by-laws to prohibit short-term ...Read more

Chicago residents puzzled by process of transferring title of home to living trust

Q: I wanted to record a quitclaim deed to transfer title of our home into our respective living trusts in order to avoid probate. Our plan was to record this deed ourselves to save money.

We thought we could record the deed and it would be a simple process. We’d go to the recorder’s office and pay the $100 fee to record the document and we�...Read more

Homeowner’s lender demands certified check for final mortgage payment after receiving personal checks for lifetime of loan

Q: When my 360th (and final) mortgage payment came due I was informed that a personal check wouldn’t be acceptable. I had to submit a certified check with almost more information on the check than could fit, everything except my inseam size number of original teeth remaining on my mouth.

Why are 359 personal checks acceptable over the life of...Read more

Readers weigh in, we respond

Comment: I read your column with interest, having worked in legal aid for about 20 years — mostly representing tenants being evicted. This is to comment about your advice in your recent column from a person who said he was 80 years old and renting an apartment in a senior community.

Your advice as far as it went was clearly spot on. However, ...Read more

Homeowner seeks reasonable way to protect home ownership after paying off mortgage

Q: I have paid off the mortgage on my home. But, I am concerned. I have heard that someone can take a loan out against your home without you knowing and you could lose your home. To address my concern without knowing other options, I am keeping a minor amount due in a home equity line of credit (HELOC) so that the bank remains involved in what ...Read more

Siblings concerned trust is missing a tax identification number after selling deceased mother’s home

Q: I have a question regarding my mom’s revocable trust. My brother and I are the beneficiaries of the trust. The home was put on the market while my mom was alive, but she has since passed. We actually received an offer for the home on the day she died.

We just closed on the home and realized my attorney never set up a federal tax ...Read more

Homeowner seeks to remove ex-spouse’s name from mortgage without refinancing loan

Q: My ex-spouse will sign a quitclaim deed to me on the house we lived in. Will that remove her name from the mortgage? Her name is not on the loan promissory note, but she did sign on the mortgage document. How can I remove her name from the mortgage document without refinancing the loan?

A: With interest rising to heights last seen nearly 25 ...Read more

Parent fears trouble with IRS due to daughter’s late loan payments

Q: I lent my daughter money to buy a home. It has been a couple of years since she made a payment to me. That’s mostly due to COVID-19 shutdowns of her work and her health issues.

Her home has continued to appreciate. I am completely confident that I will eventually receive the repayment of the principal she owes along with the interest that ...Read more

Residents concerned building could experience total lack of elevator service during repairs

Q: We are scheduled to begin an elevator modernization project soon. The project will require that one of the two elevators in our building be out of service for about four months. We will be totally dependent on a single elevator for that entire period.

The contractor for the project is bound by contract to maintain the operation of the single...Read more

Homeowner worries about losing home if final mortgage payment is late

Q: If your home mortgage final payment comes due and you can’t pay it before the due date, how many days do you have after the due date to make the final payment, without losing your home?

A: If we understand your questions correctly, you’ve come a long way from the time you took out your mortgage until now when your last and final payment ...Read more

Common interest community considers changes to governing documents

Q: I am a member of a common interest community of 12 individual homes. We are discussing making changes in our association documents, including our declaration, rules and regulations. We can make these changes with a membership vote.

My question is do we need to submit our changes to our town? Also, do we need an attorney to sign off on any ...Read more

Can you report a bad home inspector?

Q: We are selling our rental property. Our buyers’ inspector came out to our property to do the inspection. I don’t live near the home and wasn’t there for the inspection.

I went to the house a week later and discovered the inspector had turned off the electric line to the air conditioning unit (which he reported was not cooling), the ...Read more

Is a transfer-on-death document right for you?

Q: Do you think it smart to do a transfer-on-death deed on real estate we own? Our home is quite valuable and we want to leave it to our heirs. My home state, Hawaii, does allow this. I just don’t know if it’s a good idea.

A: Let’s first address the concept of a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed. As the name implies, you can sign a document ...Read more

Does paying property taxes give you the rights of ownership?

Q: I own five acres of land with two other people. Two of us have paid all of the property taxes on the property for 30 years. Is it possible for the two owners who have paid the taxes to take ownership of the property? The third owner was deeded his share of the property about 30 years ago but has never paid anything. Now that owner has filed ...Read more



Sarah's Scribbles Get Fuzzy Dogs of C-Kennel Gary Varvel Barney Google And Snuffy Smith Fowl Language