Ready to Mess up? Why Illinois Quitclaim Deeds should not be self prepared

Preparation of Quit Claim Deeds in Illinois are one of those things that so many people try to do themselves, rather than hiring an attorney. They are readily available at office supply stores or online.  It is just a form, right? Not quite. It is a document that if prepared incorrectly, will affect ownership rights of the home.

As an Illinois attorney, I’ve prepared hundreds of deeds and none of them look just like what people purchased generically DIY. I’ve also had people come to me with self-prepared deeds for me to look over, most of which needed to be re-done or else they wouldn’t have worked. Just the other day, a man who hired me in connection with the refinance his house presented me with a deed that he had prepared and which his ex-wife signed, after he chased her for 7 months to get her to sign it. Unfortunately, the legal description was missing, in addition to having several other errors. The form which he worked so hard to get his ex’s signature on was good for nothing.

The way that deeds are prepared determines the ownership rights. There are different ways to own property and if owning property jointly with another person, there are a few different options. Not all options are available to everyone, depending on marital status, for example. Get it wrong and it could also impact protections you may have otherwise had from creditors. It is crucial that the right kind of tenancy be created when a deed is prepared.

Deeds also contain “subject to” clauses, affecting property usage rights as well as possibly also referencing property taxes. There is no way that generic forms are going to know what “subject to’s” a particular piece of property contains. Closely related is the importance of doing a title search if someone will be quitclaiming property to you. If you are the one quitclaiming to someone else, that doesn't mean that you need not worry. If you get it wrong, you could face legal reprecussions later on too. 

Once the quit claim is completed, it still needs to be properly executed and recorded and may require ancillary documents. In Illinois, many cities and towns will require a stamp to be purchased before the deed can even be recorded.  Depending on the reason behind a deed, such as transfer in a divorce, quitclaims may be exempt from transfer taxes but will still require the purchase of an “exempt stamp” for a nominal fee ($10.00 in many places).

I have also heard many people refer to the Quit Claim Deed as a Quick Claim Deed. While quit claim deeds are a fast way to transfer ownership rights since no guarantees or warranties are being made about the property, I am not sure where this term “quick claim” came from, but please don’t use it! They are called quit claim deeds.

Don’t risk doing a quitclaim deed yourself. You’ve been warned. The house that the deed stands for is too valuable to mess this up. Contact our office, either in Schaumburg or Itasca, and the attorney can have a properly prepared quit claim deed prepared for you in no time!


Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Injury & Accidents, Disability Insurance.