Illinois Warranty Deed Form

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What is an Illinois Warranty Deed Form?

An Illinois warranty deed form is a type of deed used to transfer real estate with a full warranty of title. When a property owner signs an Illinois warranty deed, he or she makes full guarantees about the property.1 These guarantees give the new owner the ability to sue the previous owner if there is a problem with the title to the property.

How Warranty of Title Works in Illinois

An Illinois warranty deed form provides the broadest warranty of title of all of the deed forms used in Illinois. A person who transfers property by warranty deed (the grantor) makes a series of promises (or covenants of title) to the new owner (the grantee):

  • Covenant of seisin. The grantor holds complete title to the real estate.
  • Covenant of power to convey. The grantor has the legal authority to transfer the real estate to the new owner.
  • Covenant against encumbrances. There are no undisclosed encumbrances—adverse third-party interest like liens, mortgages, or assessments—that impair the real estate’s title.
  • Covenant of quiet possession. The new owner’s use and enjoyment of the property will not be disturbed by any third-party claims; and
  • Covenant of warranty. The grantor will be legally responsible for any issues with the property’s title and agrees to defend the new owner’s title against third-party claims.

How Warranty of Title Protects the New Owner

A complete warranty of title provides broad protection to the new owner by placing all risk of title problems on the prior owner. If there is a problem with the property’s title, the prior owner is legally responsible for resolving the issue or compensating the new owner for any financial loss the problem causes. This duty may include covering the legal costs of defending the new owner’s title against a third-party claim.

Title insurance provides similar protection to a warranty of title—shifting title-related risk to the insurance company. A title insurance company that issues a title policy agrees to bear the financial risk that the insured person (typically the owner or a mortgage lender) incurs due to title problems. A title policy covers any financial loss that a title problem causes and legal fees needed to protect the owner’s title. The reliable protection provided by title insurance has made warranty of title less vital in modern real estate transactions—though Illinois warranty are still commonly used for real estate sales.

Other Names for an Illinois Warranty Deed Form

An Illinois warranty deed form is sometimes called a general warranty deed. The more descriptive name distinguishes warranty deeds that provide a complete warranty of title from special warranty deed that provide a limited warranty of title.

Warranty deed and general warranty deed are the most common names nationally for deeds that transfer title with a complete warranty. Some states use less common names—like full warranty deed or deed with full covenants.

How Do Illinois Warranty Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?

An Illinois warranty deed form includes a complete warranty that places all risk of title problems on the transferor. Illinois law recognizes other deeds for transferring real estate that provide a weaker or no warranty and place some or all risk on the new owner.

  • Illinois quitclaim deed form. An Illinois quitclaim deed form provides no warranty of title. The new owner receives whatever interest the current owner can transfer. But there is no guarantee of a clear, valid title or that the transferor actually owns the real estate.2.
  • Illinois special warranty deed form. An Illinois special warranty deed form provides a limited warranty of title. The transferor guarantees good title to the real estate, but the guarantee applies on to issues that arose while the transferor held title. The new owner bears the risk for any title issue from before the transferor acquired the property.3

Quitclaim deeds and special warranty deeds provide less protection to the new owner and expose the prior owner to less risk of liability.

Illinois Warranty Deeds and Other Illinois Deed Forms

The designation of a deed as a warranty deed signifies that the deed transfers real estate with a complete warranty of title. Other types of deeds have names that are based on other features. Estate-planning deeds are named for the approaches they use to transfer property when the owner dies without probate.

  • Illinois life estate deed form. An Illinois life estate deed form avoids probate by dividing ownership into two interests. One interest holder (the life tenant, typically the original owner) has lifetime ownership of the property. The second interest holder (the remainder beneficiary) has the right to own the property in the future when the life tenant dies. The remainder beneficiary has a valid, future ownership interest when the life estate deed is created, so the life tenant can transfer or sell complete ownership only with the beneficiary’s consent.4
  • Illinois transfer-on-death instrument. An Illinois transfer-on-death instrument is the equivalent of what many states call a transfer-on-death deed (or TOD deed). A property owner who records a TOD instrument names a beneficiary who will take title at the owner’s death.5 While the owner is alive, he or she keeps all rights in the property—including the right to sell, transfer, or mortgage the property or to amend or revoke the TOD instrument.6

Common Uses of Illinois Warranty Deed Forms

Illinois warranty deeds are often used in the sale context—particularly when a buyer pays fair value for a single-family residential property. They are most popular for sales of single-family residences. Warranty deeds can also transfer commercial or multi-family residential real estate, but special warranty deeds are more commonly used in those situations.

Transfers between friends or family members for no consideration rarely involve warranty deeds. Special warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds are more often used to transfer property as a gift. Likewise, a deed that retitles property without changing actual control—like a transfer to a living trust or LLC that the property owner controls—is usually a special warranty deed or quitclaim deed.

How to Create an Illinois Warranty Deed Form

An Illinois warranty deed form must accurately reflect the parties intended transfer terms, and it must be worded correctly to create a complete warranty of title. Like all other Illinois deeds, a warranty deed must also meet the recording requirements for Illinois deeds.

Illinois law has model language for warranty deeds.7 A deed that relies on the short-form language from the statute includes a complete warranty that excludes only items specifically disclosed in the deed. An Illinois warranty deed can incorporate implied covenants of title using “conveys and warrants” in the deed’s granting clause—though it is common for a warranty deed to have a warranty clause that expressly defines the warranty.

The model warranty deed language can effectively create a general warranty, but it is not by itself sufficient to create an effective deed that is eligible for recording. Every recorded deed must comply with Illinois’ deed-formatting standards and also contain (for example):

  • The names and address of the current owner and new owner;
  • An accurate legal description of the real estate;
  • A statement of consideration; and
  • Addresses for return of the recorded deed and for future tax statements (often the same address).

Illinois also has statutory formatting standards that all deeds must satisfy.8 A warranty deed that is in the correct format and accurately reflects the transfer terms is then signed by the current owner and acknowledged before a notary.9 The original signed, notarized deed is submitted to the county recorder (or county clerk in some counties) for recording.10

A warranty deed form that transfers Illinois real estate must be created specifically for use in Illinois. Another deed form may be valid in another state and ineffective in Illinois. A deed that fails to meet all legal requirements may be rejected by the county recorder or result in a defective transfer that may lead to future title issues.

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  1. 765 ILCS 5/9.
  2. 765 ILCS 5/10.
  3. 765 ILCS 5/8.
  4. First United Pres. Church v. Christenson, 64 Ill. 2d 491 (Ill. 1976).
  5. 755 ILCS 27/20.
  6. 755 ILCS 27/60
  7. 765 ILCS 5/9.
  8. 55 ILCS 5/3-5018.
  9. 765 ILCS 5/1; 5/35c.
  10. 55 ILCS 5/3-5001.