Monthly Archives: June 2011

Real estate and the Illinois Civil Union Act

It  used to be that only married couples could hold title to their primary residence as tenants by the entirety. The advantage of this form of ownership is that the property is protected from creditors if one spouse is sued or files bankruptcy (it’s not protected if both spouses get sued or file for bankruptcy).

Now,  under the new Illinois Civil Union Act, couples can hold title to their residence as tenants by the entirety, just like married couples. So what is the best way to hold title to real estate for couples united  under the new civil union act?

There are at least two options:

1. Tenants by the Entirety. This means that if one dies it snaps to the other avoiding probate. On the second death, however, a probate will be necessary to transfer title unless the property is transferred to a trust in between. The property is protected from creditors. I like this form of ownership if the couple has an existing mortgage or plans to refinance down the line.

2. A living trust as tenants by entirety. The law now allows a couple to hold title to their primary residence in a trust (or trusts)  as tenants by the entirety. So the couple gets the probate avoidance of the trust and the asset protection of tenancy by the entirety. The trust/tenancy by entirety law is new as of January 1, 2011.  I like this form of ownership for properties that  have no mortgage and where there are asset protection concerns or a high liability job.


Long term occupant applications mailed in Cook

Cook Co. is riddled with real estate tax exemptions and the long term occupant exemption is a strange, stealth exemption that I have never liked much.

It’s not mentioned much on the Cook County Assessor’s website and no one understands it.

The exemption is a substitute for the homeowner’s exemption, but the benefit of it is that there  is no cap,  so the savings can be more than the typical homeowner’s exemption.

To qualify you need:

1. Owned your home from 1/1/00 to 1/1/10 (10 years).

2. Household income of less than $100k.

3. A big assessment increase (that’s basically everyone).

The assessor just mailed packets to those of you deemed worthy.  There is no form on the site to apply for the long term occupant exemption, so you have to rely on the mailed form (which is vintage 1960). The application has to be filed by June 22.