Lady Bird Deed Allows Inheritor of Property to Avoid Probate
Fla. property can easily transfer after an owner’s death if they set up a lady bird deed. It’s similar to a trust fund set up for finances but applies to a property asset.
SEBRING, Fla. – “Often an individual who inherits property thinks that the property automatically transfers to him or her upon the death of the original owner. What the individual doesn’t realize is that the property first has to go through probate, even if the original owner had a will, which can be a costly and lengthy process,” Dawn Dell, Broker Associate, BHHS Florida Properties Group, said recently on her Facebook page.
“A lot of people don’t know that in Florida and five other states there is a real estate planning tool by which probate can be avoided. It’s called an enhanced life estate deed or a lady bird deed,” Dell said.
The deed got its nickname after President Lyndon B. Johnson used it to convey property to his wife, Lady Bird.
As outlined on DeedClaims.com, here’s how it works:
The current owner signs a lady bird deed, transferring his or her Florida property to himself or herself for life. The deed also names one or more people, trusts or organizations who are to inherit the property after the current owner dies. The inheritors are called remainder beneficiaries or remaindermen.
The lady bird deed is an enhanced life estate deed, meaning the owner retains control of the property for as long as he or she is alive. At any point during that time, the owner can change his or her mind and do something else with the property, like sell it, mortgage it, or gift it to someone else. Furthermore, he or she may do so without permission or involvement of the remainder beneficiaries.
If the original owner dies with the lady bird deed in place, the property passes automatically to the remainder beneficiaries. There is no need to probate the deceased owner’s estate. Title to the property is simply transferred to the new owner.
While there are websites where individuals can create their own lady bird deeds, “it is best to pay a few hundred dollars to have an attorney or a title company do it to ensure total accuracy,” Dell advises.
Also, individual situations vary; that is another good reason to seek expert assistance.
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