What is a Transfer on Death Instrument (TODI)?

A Transfer on Death Instrument, also known as a TODI, is a legal document used in estate planning to transfer the ownership of specific assets to designated beneficiaries upon the owner’s death. In Illinois, the instrument can be used to transfer real estate upon the death of the current owner without the need for probate proceedings. 

In Illinois, the TODI is governed by the Illinois Residential Real Property Transfer on Death Instrument Act (755 ILCS 27/1 et seq.). This legislation allows property owners to execute a TODI to streamline the transfer of their real estate assets to their chosen beneficiaries without the need for probate proceedings.

Benefits of Using a TODI in Illinois

Avoiding Probate: One of the primary advantages of using a TODI is that it allows your chosen beneficiary to receive the asset without going through the probate process. Probate can be time-consuming, expensive, and public, but a TODI can help you bypass it for the specific assets covered.

Privacy: Probate proceedings are public records, which means anyone can access information about your estate, beneficiaries, and assets. By using a TODI, you can keep the details of your asset transfer private, as it won’t be subject to probate court records.

Flexibility: TODIs offer flexibility in designating beneficiaries. You can name multiple beneficiaries and specify their respective shares of the asset. Additionally, you can change your beneficiary designation at any time, allowing you to adapt your estate plan to changing circumstances.

No Interference with Your Current Ownership: While you are alive, a TODI does not affect your ownership or control of the asset in any way. You can buy, sell, mortgage, or transfer it freely without any impact on the TODI’s validity.

How to Create a TODI in Illinois with Your Attorney

Creating a TODI in Illinois is a legal process best handled with an experienced attorney’s assistance. Here are the steps to help you prepare when working with your attorney to create a TODI:

Select an Experienced Attorney: Schedule a meeting with a qualified estate planning attorney in Illinois. They will assess your financial situation and goals to determine if a TODI is suitable for your needs.

Discuss Asset Selection: With your attorney’s guidance, identify the specific assets you wish to transfer via TODI, such as real estate or vehicles.

Draft the TODI: Your attorney will draft the document according to your instructions, ensuring it complies with all Illinois legal requirements.

Beneficiary Designation: You will work with your attorney to designate the beneficiaries of the selected assets, specifying their respective shares and any contingencies.

Notarization and Recordation: Your attorney will oversee the notarization of the TODI and ensure that it is properly recorded with the county recorder’s office in the county where the property is located. This step is crucial to ensure the instrument’s validity.

Review and Update: Periodically review your TODI with your attorney to ensure it aligns with your current wishes and circumstances. If necessary, your attorney can help you make changes or execute a new TODI to replace the previous one.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I have multiple beneficiaries for a single asset in a TODI?

  • Yes, you can designate multiple beneficiaries for a single asset in a TODI, specifying their respective shares.

Can I change the beneficiaries of a TODI after it’s created?

  • Yes, you can change the beneficiaries of a TODI at any time by working with your attorney to execute a new TODI or an amendment to the existing one.

What happens if the designated beneficiary predeceases me?

  • If a beneficiary named in your TODI passes away before you, their share typically passes to the surviving beneficiaries unless your TODI specifies an alternative provision.

A Transfer on Death Instrument (TODI) in Illinois is a powerful tool in estate planning that can help you simplify the transfer of certain assets to your chosen beneficiaries while avoiding the complexities and delays associated with probate. 

To ensure that your TODI is correctly executed and tailored to your specific needs, Sterk Family Law can help. With our guidance, you can take proactive steps to protect your legacy and provide for your loved ones in the future while navigating the intricacies of Illinois estate law.


This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

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