Whether or not you have to go to your real estate closing is going to depend in part, on your lawyer. Also, each state is different and this answer is meant to address only real estate closings in the State of Illinois.
Real Estate Seller attendance at closing
Sellers do not need to come to closing in most instances, provided that their lawyer is willing to act as power of attorney for them at closing. I always give my clients the choice because I know that it is a very busy day for the sellers who are moving and attending to a million other little details necessary to walk out of their home for the last time. Also, for some, it can be an emotional time and sellers would rather not have to attend. The majority of documents that need to be signed can be done in advance at the attorney's office. There are other documents that are signed at the closing table, but if you have signed a power of attorney document so that your lawyer can sign things on your behalf at closing, it can all be taken care of without you being present. Just be sure to ask your real estate lawyer if they are willing to give you this option. If so, arrange a time in advance to come to their office to sign documents and more imporantly, so that everything can be explained to you. It is also a very good idea to pay attention to your cell phone while your closing is going on, in case your attorney needs to reach you. If you are working with a realtor, he or she should be bringing keys, garage door openers, etc to the closing to give to the buyers.
Real Estate Buyer attendance at closing
If you are buying a home, you need to go to the closing. There are some very rare exceptions to this so if you know that you are closing on the purchase of a new home, plan on taking the day off. That being said, dates for real estate closings can change so be sure that you have some flexibility with your employer the week of closing. If you are getting a mortgage, you would need to have your lender's permission to have your documents signed by a power of attorney which is also unlikely to be granted.
As the day of your real estate closing approaches, it is bound to be a stressful time. Don't let the legal aspect cause you undue worry. Give us a call and we will make things as smooth as possible for you in the closing of your house. Congratulations!