Author: Law Office of Andrew Szocka



An interpleader case is not a traditional type of lawsuit between the parties.  Rather, an interpleader lawsuit’s purpose is to determine the parties’ rights to something of value, usually money, that plaintiff is holding but does not claim an interest.

Illinois courts have codified an interpleader action as parties having claims against the plaintiff that arise out of the same or related subject matter when their claims may expose plaintiff to multiple liability.  735 ILCS 5/2-409.  In order to adjudicate defendants’ rights to a fund, the court first considers whether the interpleader action is proper based on the available evidence.  If the interpleader action is proper the court has the plaintiff deposit the funds with the clerk of court, and usually discharges the plaintiff from the action.  Then the defendants attempt to prove their individual right to the fund.

Common examples of specific money the plaintiff may be holding include an insurance policy or escrow account.  As a result, interpleader actions are a useful tool for a party holding valuable property to which other parties are disputing claims.  The interpleader can limit its own involvement, attorney fees, court costs, and unexpected liability.

If you need assistance with an interpleader case, contact the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or by phone at (815) 455-8430.



An action to Quiet Title is a useful tool to yield clear and marketable title.  But it is more than an action for a Declaratory Judgment that asks the court to remove a cloud on title.  A Quiet Title count has strict pleading requirements.

The elements of a claim to Quiet Title are that 1) the party bringing the action possesses true title to the property, and 2) the title must be superior to other claimants.  Dudley v. Neteler, 392 Ill.App.3d 140, 143 (4th Dist. 2009).  In other words, a Quiet Title action may be maintained only when one holds a legal or equitable interest in property that is superior to the alleged title defect.  Antoniou v. Heartland Bank and Trust Co., 2015 IL App (1st) 150015-U at ⁋ 18.  One reprieve is that a party need not establish a perfect title to prevail.  Id.

There is a final, sometimes overlooked, element for a claim to Quiet Title.  The party must plead, and ultimately prove in order to prevail, that it is in possession of the subject property.  Dodge v. Nieman, 150 Ill.App.3d 857, 860 (1st Dist. 1986).  While possession by an agent or tenant of the party is sufficient, failure to plead actual possession leaves a Quiet Title complaint subject to dismissal.  Id. at 860-63.

A Quiet Title claim can similarly fail at the summary judgment stage.  See Floyd v. Hill Funding, LLC, 2020 IL App (1st) 192353-U.  In Floyd, plaintiff entered into an installment contract to purchase certain property in Chicago, Illinois.  Id. at ⁋ 3.  Upon payment of all installments, plaintiff would be entitled to conveyance of the property.  Id.

Plaintiff failed to make all payments under the installment contract.  Id. at ⁋ 5.  Plaintiff’s claim to quiet title against the property’s owner ultimately failed and defendant was awarded summary judgment.  Id.  The court ruled that plaintiff’s interest in the property via the installment contract, was not superior to that of the property’s owner of record.  Id.

On the other hand, a property pled Quiet Title claim can result in clear and marketable title.  See North Community Bank v. Aetna Bank, 200 Ill.App.3d 350 (1st Dist. 1990).  In North Community Bank, defendant was given a mortgage by the successful bidder at a foreclosure sale.  Id. at 351.  However, the deed to the successfully bidder contained significant defects in the property’s legal description.  Id.

Defendant then gave a mortgage to plaintiff.  Id. at 352.  When defendant defaulted under the terms of that mortgage, plaintiff filed an action to foreclose its mortgage and quiet title as to any interest of the successful bidder at the foreclosure sale.  Id.  The court ruled that the successful bidder’s claim to the property was not superior to plaintiff’s claim.  Id. at 353-54.  As a result, plaintiff was granted summary judgment.  Id.

Case law indicates that Illinois courts are strict when it comes to pleading a cause of action to Quiet Title.  However, if a party pleads the necessary elements, and has a claim to the property that is superior to others, that party can successfully clear a property’s title.

For additional reading on Quieting Title see:


Jody D. v. Bank of America, N.A., 2018 IL App (3d) 170558-U;

Chicago Title Land Trust Co. v. Iverson, 2016 IL App (1st) 150986-U;

McElmeel v. Shedelbower, 2013 IL App (5th) 130042-U.


Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. can be contacted online or by phone at (815) 455-8430.



The act of Quieting Title on property is intended to produce clear and marketable title.  If a property’s title is not clear and marketable it likely has a title defect, also known as a “cloud.”  Title defects are called clouds because the defect may obscure the property’s true owner or reflect that a party has an interest in property when it actually does not.

Clouds on title include deeds that break an otherwise clear chain of conveyances or an unreleased mortgage that secures a loan that was actually paid off.

Clouds on title are often discovered when property is being sold.  Sellers almost always have a contractual obligation to transfer clear title to the buyer.  As a result, the seller obtains a title insurance company to search the property’s title history.  If a cloud on title appears, it may need to be resolved with an action to Quiet Title.

The seller, often through an attorney, files a Complaint to Quiet Title in the Illinois Judicial Circuit where the property is located.  The Complaint explains the cloud on title and why it should be removed.  The court then determines whether or not the cloud is a legitimate claim on the property.  If the cloud is not legitimate, the court issues an order removing the cloud from the property’s title history.

For example, you attempt to refinance the current loan that you used to buy your property.  The new loan will be secured by a new mortgage.  But before your lender provides the new loan, it uses a title insurance company to check your property’s title.  Although unlikely, it is possible that the lender’s title insurance company finds an old mortgage recorded against your property that was given by a previous owner.

A Complaint to Quiet Title would allege that the loan secured by the old mortgage was actually paid off.  As a result, the holder of the old mortgage should have released it from your property’s record.  The old mortgage is still of record by mistake.

In this case, the court hearing your Quiet Title action is highly likely to order the old mortgage released from your property’s title history.

Having a good attorney can help further understand how to Quiet Title and whether it is necessary to resolve any clouds on your property’s title.

Planning on buying or selling property?  Local attorney Andrew Szocka provides thorough and speedy real estate and estate planning help in the Chicagoland area.  To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.



Most adults at some point have received a loan from a bank and given that bank a mortgage in return.  The mortgage acts as security to ensure you will pay back the loan.  Mortgages encumber specific property – typically the same property that you used the loan to purchase.

A mortgage defines the property it encumbers in three ways, 1) common address, 2) permanent index number, or “PIN”, and 3) legal description.

The common address is what you and the post office use to identify your house, for example, 123 Main Street, Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014.  In addition, every property is assigned a PIN.  Your county’s tax assessor uses the PIN to identify your property and the amount you owe in real estate taxes each year.  Different counties use alternate formats for PINs, but all involve a string of numbers designed to specifically identify your property, for example, “12-34-567-8910.”

Finally, every parcel of property in Illinois has its own legal description.  A legal description often takes the following format:


Occasionally, banks make a mistake when putting a legal description on a mortgage.  The Lot or Block number could be wrong, the name of the subdivision could be misspelled, or the legal description for a completely different property could be accidentally placed on the mortgage.

Banks solve problems or typos in the legal description through Reformation.  By asking an Illinois Court to Reform the mortgage, the Court may correct it so that it a valid and enforceable lien.  Court’s base their decision to Reform the mortgage on whether it appears the mortgage, with its incorrect legal description, does not reflect the intent of the parties to the mortgage.  In other words, the parties to the mortgage made a mutual mistake in placing the wrong legal description on the mortgage.

Evidence that the parties made mutual mistake can include that the common address and PIN on your mortgage correctly describe your property.  In that situation, it is likely that the parties intended to put the right legal description on the mortgage.

Having a good attorney can help understanding how Reformation may affect your mortgage.  It can clear up confusion you may have as a property owner so you do not have to face a lawsuit down the road.

Planning on buying or selling property?  Local attorney Andrew Szocka provides thorough and speedy real estate and estate planning help in the Chicagoland area.  To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

What is Title Insurance and do I need it?

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance protects home buyers and mortgage lenders against defects in title. Title is a document which shows legal ownership of a property. Title will show past ownership, past transfers, any liens or encumbrances on title. In a real estate transaction, a title search will more than likely be performed on the property. In most cases, before the real estate property can be transferred, the search must show a good clean title, free of defects which could affect ownership. Two types of title insurance are a lender’s policy which protects the lender’s interest in the property as well as an owner’s policy which protects the homeowner’s interest in the property for as long as they have ownership.

Do I need Title Insurance?

Even if at the time the title search of the property was performed there appeared to be no defects, this does not mean the property is free and clear.  There could be many issues which may not have been found which could date back to many years before you received ownership. In example, a long lost heir could claim ownership. There could be issues raised regarding forgery on an old transaction that your seller may not have even been a part of. There could even be old liens, ordinance violations or unpaid taxes which encumber the property. For most people, a home is one of their biggest assets. Title insurance protects your home and your interests.  Title insurance is a one-time premium and not a monthly payment you make as with other insurances. Also, title insurance is good for the duration you own your home. This offers you protection from a claim which may have arose years prior to you owning the property. Having to bear the burden of legal fees could costs thousands of dollars. Having a one-time premium for title insurance can save you peace of mind.

Title Insurance Costs?

Title insurance ranges by states. There are many factors which go into deciding how much title insurance will actually costs.  One of the biggest factors is how much the house costs, as larger loan could mean a larger loan payout. As with any type of insurance, title insurance costs more depending on the cost of the property. Usually Seller’s attorney chooses the title company, however, you do have the right to shop around. Title insurance is a one-time payment which could save you thousands of dollars and protect your interests.

Are planning on buying or selling property? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy real estate and estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.