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Re: Transfer on Death titling of real estate in Illinois , is this working out, or is it frought with problems?

Lake Forest, IL |

I believe Transfer on Death titling of real estate was adopted in Illinois in 2012 ; while it is a process that other states have had for some time, it's fairly new for us -- and so I'm worried about titling my house this way, until I know that the process actually works. I know there are other ways to transfer property, but I'm looking not to have to pay for a Trust, or a Life Estate, or anything else if I can just do "transfer on death" titling. Can anyone tell me if this is working in Illinois (Cook County)?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. TODIs have been available for a short time in Illinois and there still is no standard form. If you decide to do one, make sure you use the services of an attorney who knows the law and preferably has done a few. It is not really appropriate for most estate plans, for several reasons, which your attorney will discuss with you. If you decide to go that route, make sure you also have a TODI revocation form prepared so you are ready to revoke if you change your mind, and that your beneficiary knows the requirements and is ready to file a notice of death affidavit and acceptance of the TODI within the very limited time frame allowed by law. Any filing beyond the statutory 30 days after death will void the instrument.


  2. A Transfer on Death Instrument may be a suitable document in certain circumstances. Generally this means properly being left to children equally. Even with that situation the use of TODI's is still being done with caution as title insurance companies are not comfortable with many uncertainties in the existing law. It is my understanding that meetings between the Illinois legislators and title insurance company representatives have taken place to discuss changes to the existing law. However, as of yet these changes have not been agreed upon nor inacted.

    As Ms. Goldstein suggests, you are best served using a knowledgeable estate planning or elder law attorney to prepare the TODI for you and/or to review your circumstances and make other recommendations.

    Best wishes!

    Legal Disclaimer: Paul A. Smolinski is licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois only, and as such, his answers to AVVO inquiries are based on his understanding of Illinois law only. His answers are for general information about perceived legal issues within this question only and no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to extend any right of confidentiality between you and Mr. Smolinski, to constitute legal advice, or create an attorney/client or other contractual relationship. An attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement including an evaluation of the specific legal problem and review of all the facts and documents at issue. We try to insure the accuracy of this information, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. The reader should never assume that this information applies to his or her specific situation or constitutes legal advice. Therefore, please consult competent counsel that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction and who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances.


  3. I agree with everything my colleagues have said and would add that yes, it does in fact work. It seems that there are certain circumstances under which it works better than others, but yes it does work. The TODI must be prepared by an attorney, per the statute. If you consult with an attorney who is familiar with them, I'm sure she/he will go over the facts of your case and advise you appropriately. Keep in mind that you are not changing the title to your house; rather you are designating a beneficiary to receive it upon your death similar to a beneficiary designation on a financial account.

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois and have an office in Kane County. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you this answer helpful.

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