June 2011 Vol. 4, No. 5

Underwriters' Bulletin

Claims Corner

Judgments; Liens

Judgment and Lien Basics

Originally published in the December 2008 issue of the ATG Casenotes and Underwriters' Bulletin

It is important to make sure that a name search is done for all the parties that could have judgment or liens that affect title. Failing to run a search on all necessary parties could result in a claim if there is a judgment or lien against that party. The following are ATG's guidelines on what names should be searched:

  • If a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC) is or was in title, the corporate or LLC name must be searched.
  • If a partnership is or was in title, the name of the partnership as well as the names of all partners must be searched.
  • If a trustee is or was in title, the name of the trustee and the trust must be searched. If the trust is not an Illinois Land Trust, the names of all present beneficiaries of the trust must be searched.
  • If a decedent is or was in title, the search must include the names of the decedent and of all the heirs and devisees.
  • If a minor or a disabled adult has an open guardianship proceeding, the name of the minor or disabled adult must be searched.

Do not forget to have a judgment and lien search done on all buyers including those that are added at the last minute. If the last deed in the chain of title is a quit claim deed the names of the previous title holders should also be searched. Unless you have a prior policy, ATG requires a twenty-year search on all names.

Claims also arise when judgments that were discovered in a judgment and lien search are not properly taken care of at closing. The typical judgment and lien search will have listings that provide the following information:

Doc Type Document Number Recording Date Case Number Amount
MJD 1234567 01/01/2001 00L00001 $0
Grantee: Betty Buyer
Grantor: 123 Collections
MJD 1234577 01/01/2002 00L00002 $15000
Grantee: Betty Buyer
Grantor: City of Chicago

The amount that is listed on the Judgment and Lien search cannot be relied on to be accurate. ATG has had claims for judgments that were listed as $0. If there is a judgment that is against the buyer or seller, the amount of the judgment on the search should not be used to eliminate the judgment. A copy of the recorded judgment should be requested for any judgments that cannot be eliminated by information provided on a Personal Information Affidavit. It may be necessary on direct hit judgments to contact the judgment creditor to obtain more information in order to ensure that the judgment is not against a party to the transaction. All judgments become a lien after they have been recorded even if the judgment is recorded without a legal description.

The following is a reminder of the time period that needs to lapse for a few common liens to expire.


Illinois Income Tax Lien: 20 years from filing of lien
Federal Tax Lien: 10 years from assessment
Judgment: 7 years from entry or revival of the judgment

See also "Judgment and Lien Searches," from November 2005ATG Underwriters' Bulletin.

If you have questions about what names to search or whether or not a judgment or lien needs to be raised on the commitment, please contact the ATG Underwriting Department,legal@atgf.com, 217.403.0020, or 312.752.1990.

© ATG|Casenotes/Bulletin 1104_v4n5

[Last update: 6-22-11]