Ladybird Deed: An Enhanced Life Estate

toates Estate Planning, featured, Real Estate

How can I change title to a piece of real property to affect my estate plan and avoid probate, yet still maintain complete control over it during my lifetime, including the ability to un-do the transfer, and not just the right to occupy for as long as I am alive?

Florida recognizes an enhanced life estate, otherwise known as a “Lady Bird Deed.” The name originates from the methods President Lyndon B. Johnson used to convey his property to his wife, ‘Lady Bird’ Johnson. The conveyance is one where the grantor reserves unto themselves full and complete control of the property, including the ability to un-do the transfer. In other words, the grantor doesn’t need the consent of the remainder interests as would be required by a traditional life estate. With a Lady Bird Deed, the original grantor can sell, use, mortgage, profit from, and otherwise deal completely with the property during their lifetime.

In a traditional life estate, the remainder interests are contingent only on the life of the life tenant. The life tenant does not have complete authority to deal with the property. If needed, in order to un-do a life estate, the life tenant (original grantor) would need the signatures and consent of the remainder interests or beneficiaries.

While this form of transfer has the same benefit as a life estate with regards to probate avoidance, it protects the grantor’s/life tenant’s ability to make changes should his or her circumstances change during their lifetime.

A Lady Bird Deed is just one choice of many in a proper estate plan. A transfer of this nature requires very specific language for to be done properly and to avoid the creation of title issues and unintended consequences. Therefore you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney to consider what is right for you and your family. Part of our practice at Law Offices of Oates & Oates, P.A., includes counseling clients on their estate planning, probate, and real estate needs. Please contact our office to set up a time to review your estate plan.