How to Answer a Foreclosure Summons in Illinois

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Illinois Legal Aid reports that receiving a foreclosure summons means that your mortgage company is attempting to take your house from you through a lawsuit. However, the agency advises that you should not panic -- and that you should not move out of the home. The foreclosure process takes several months to complete in Illinois, giving you plenty of time to consider your options. After receiving the summons it is important to seek reputable advice while avoiding so-called "foreclosure rescue" companies.

Read the foreclosure summons. Illinois Legal Aid suggests that some people fail to even read the notice, possibly because they are so stressed out by their financial problems. However, the summons offers important information, such as deadlines for responding.

Hire an experienced real estate attorney. You can defend yourself in a foreclosure lawsuit, in Illinois but your chances for success are better with the help of an attorney.

Prepare legal documents called an "appearance and answer" within 30 days of receiving the summons. Ideally, have an attorney handle this. Or do it yourself by visiting the Illinois Legal Aid website, which offers the forms and instructions on how to fill them out and return them to the court within the deadline. The appearance document informs the court that you are aware of the lawsuit and intend to participate in the court process. The answer is a written response to the foreclosure lawsuit. The lawsuit is called the complaint and is sent along with the summons. Illinois Legal Aid reports that the answer allows you to deny all or some allegations made in the lawsuit.

File the appearance and answer at the courthouse listed on the summons. Filing the forms completes your answer to the summons, allowing you to begin focusing on a hearing before a judge. At the hearing you must provide a successful defense for the lawsuit, such as allegations of fraud by the mortgage company. An experienced attorney can offer other possible defenses, depending on your situation. Competent legal representation is critical at this point.

Tips & Warnings

  • A filing fee is necessary for recording the appearance and answer with the court, according to Illinois Legal Aid. However, if you cannot afford the fee, you can ask a judge to allow you to file for free.
  • Failing to file the answer and appearance within 30 days results in an automatic victory for the mortgage company. You must protect your rights by filing the paperwork.

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