In Illinois, any type of deed needs four things to be legal. It must include the names of the grantor and grantee -- the property owner and the new owner. It must identify the property being transferred and say what the grantor receives in return for it. Finally, the grantor has to sign it. If an Illinois quitclaim or warranty deed contains those elements, it's legal. Which type of deed you choose depends on your circumstances and needs.
Under the state's Conveyances Act, a grantor using a warranty deed "conveys and warrants" the property to the grantee. As the name suggests, the grantor is giving a warranty on the transfer, a promise that he is the owner and he has the right to sell the land. If someone turns up who challenges the grantee's title -- or eventually, his heirs' title -- the grantor is legally liable if he concealed or overlooked any title problems.
The quitclaim deed, by contrast, doesn't guarantee anything. Instead, the grantor uses it to "convey and quitclaim" the property to the grantee. The grantor gives up any claim on the property, but makes no guarantee the title is good or that she even has a valid title. It transfers the "existing legal or equitable rights" according to the Conveyances Act, but there's no legal recourse if someone accepts a quitclaim deed and later learns she doesn't have any ownership interest in the property.
Grantors use quitclaim deeds in cases where title isn't at issue. For example, someone who wants to share ownership of his house with his spouse can use a quitclaim, transferring ownership to the couple as joint grantees. It's also useful if one spouse gives up ownership in a divorce. The quitclaim deed doesn't transfer responsibility for the mortgage though. The grantor is on the hook for the payments until the grantee refinances in his own name.
Special and General
Warranty deeds are the standard tool when money changes hands along with the title. The warranty deed gives the grantee the option to sue the grantor, and different types of warranty deed offer different levels of protection. A special or limited warranty makes the grantor liable if she's done anything to impair the title. The general warranty deed holds her accountable even if the title problems date back to a previous owner. A limited deed requires specific language stating the limits.
- Attorneys' General Title Fund: Corrective Deeds: When Will Illinois Courts Reform a Deed in Illinois?
- Illinois State Bar Association: Statutory Reference 765 ILCS 5/9
- Illinois General Assembly: Conveyances Act
- Chicago Tribune: Quitclaim Deed on House Without New Mortgage Leads to Grief
- Find Legal Forms: Illinois Special Warranty Deed
A Durham, NC resident, Fraser has written about law, starting a business, balancing your budget and fighting evictions, among other legal and financial topics.