Illinois real estate is transferred by a document called a deed. A deed transfers property from one or more current owners (grantors) to one or more new owners (grantees). Our Illinois deed forms include:
Three of these deeds are defined by their warranty of title or lack of warranty.
- Illinois Warranty Deed Form – Provides a full warranty of title that covers all title defects, including those that arose before the grantor owned the property.
- Illinois Special Warranty Deed Form – Provides a limited warranty of title that only covers the period when the grantor owned the property.
- Illinois Quit Claim Deed Form – Provides no warranty of title.
Illinois also recognizes two types of deeds that can be used to avoid probate of Illinois real estate.
- Illinois Transfer-on-Death Deed Form – Names a designated beneficiary to inherit the property on the death of the current
- Life Estate Deed – Divides ownership into two categories of owners, the first of which holds a life estate in the property until death and the second of which inherits the property on the prior owner’s death.
Our Deed Generator can create each of these types of deeds, depending on the choices made in the interview.
Illinois Deed Requirements: Validity and Recording
Illinois law includes specific requirements for transferring property located within the state.
- All deeds must have a blank space of at least 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches on the top right corner of the first page of the deed. This blank space allows the county recorded to enter the relevant information when the deed is recorded. 765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/9 to 5/11.
- The deed must include the names of the grantor and the grantee. 765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/9 to 5/10.
- The deed must be in writing and signed by the grantor. 765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/1.
- The grantor’s signature should be notarized using an acknowledgment that meets the short statutory form of acknowledgment. 5 ILCS 312/6-105.
- The deed must include a legal description that describes the property being conveyed with reasonable certainty. 765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/35c.
- If the deed conveys homestead property, any non-owning spouse must join in the conveyance. 735 ILCS 5/12-904.
- The deed must either describe the basis for exemption from Illinois real estate transfer taxes or come with payment of the transfer taxes. 35 ILCS 200/31-25.
- The deed must be recorded in the county in which the real estate is located. 765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/28.
Because these requirements are state-specific, each Illinois deed should be prepared with these requirements in mind. Using a generic deed—or one prepared based on another state’s requirements—can invalidate the transfer or create title problems that can only be fixed in court. Each deed prepared by our Deed Generator was designed by attorneys to meet the requirements of Illinois law.
Spousal Ownership of Illinois Real Estate
Because Illinois is a separate property state, all real estate titled in only one spouse’s name belongs exclusively to that spouse. A spouse that is not listed on the deed has no ownership interest in the property. But a spouse without an ownership interest may still have homestead rights if the property is used as the marital home. If the property qualifies as an Illinois homestead, one spouse cannot transfer the property without the joinder of the other spouse. This is true even if only one spouse is listed on the prior deed.
Forms of Co-Ownership of Illinois Real Estate
More than one owner may own the same parcel of real estate. Illinois recognizes three forms of co-ownership that apply when multiple owners hold title to the same property.
- Tenancy in Common – Each owner has an undivided interest in the property that passes to his or her probate estate upon death;
- Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship – Each owner has an undivided interest that passes to the other owners upon death; and
- Tenancy by the Entirety – A married couple owns the property as a unit, and one spouse cannot convey an interest the property without the other spouse’s consent.
Tenancy in common is available to all owners, including trusts and businesses. Because a joint tenancy with right of survivorship includes survivorship rights, and because people can only survive other people, joint tenancy with right of survivorship is not available to any owner that is a trust or business. Tenancy by the entirety is only available to married couples.
How to Transfer Illinois Real Estate
In Illinois, the real estate transfer process usually involves four steps:
- Locate the most recent deed to the property. Before creating a deed, it is helpful to have a copy of the most recent deed to the property (the deed that transferred the property to the current grantor). You will need information from this deed, including the legal description and the exact way that the current grantor’s name was worded on the prior deed.
- Create the new deed. The next step is to create a new deed that meets the requirements of Illinois law. Because these requirements are state-specific, generic fill-in-the-blank forms should be avoided. Our Deed Generator uses an easy interview to create the right type of deed based on the information you enter in the interview.
- Sign and notarize the new deed. Each grantor must sign the new deed and have his or her signature witnessed by a notary public, who much acknowledge the deed. In some situations, the grantor’s spouse may also be required to sign the deed. Our software can help you determine whether additional signatures are required.
- Record the deed in the Illinois land records. The final step is to record the deed in the land records of the Illinois county where the property is located. Recording costs and any Illinois real estate transfer taxes owed must be paid when the deed is recorded.
Each of these steps is explained in more detail in the instructions (Next Steps) included with the deed created by our software.