What is Probate Court?
Probate court is a legal process that may be necessary after someone’s death. How you can help your family avoid probate is to plan for the transfer of your property in Florida with an enhanced life estate deed, also called a “Lady Bird” deed.
Life Estate Deed
In a non-enhanced life estate deed, the real estate owner gives future ownership and control of their property to beneficiaries while the owner is still living. A regular life estate deed vests these rights in the beneficiaries immediately upon execution, which results in the owner’s rights over the property being restricted during his/her lifetime. Until the owner’s date of death, he or she will have to ask the beneficiaries’ permission before mortgaging or selling the property. The owner might also be liable to the beneficiaries if he or she damages or decreases the value of the property.
Enhanced Life Estate Deed
An enhanced life estate deed, on the other hand, does not strip the owner of his/her rights to the property. With a Lady Bird deed, the asset owner (the “life tenant”) keeps total control over the property during his or her lifetime. The life tenant retains the ability to use and profit from the property, sell the property, and mortgage the property without permission from the beneficiaries. Moreover, the individual executing such deed retains the right during their lifetime to revoke or change the individual they have named to receive the property upon their death should circumstances change. The enhanced deed still allows the property owner to avoid probate and reap the other benefits of having a life estate deed, such as avoiding a federal gift tax.
What States Have Lady Bird Deeds?
Lady Bird deeds are only available in three states: Florida, Michigan, and Texas. They can be of great value to property owners who want to retain control over their properties until death, escape probate, and not affect their Medicaid benefits eligibility. Enhanced life estate deeds transfer real estate ownership and control to beneficiaries upon the owner’s death in a simple way for everyone. After the property owner passes away, his or her estate automatically transfers to the new owner(s) without probate.
These deeds have unique language and requirements that classify them as Lady Bird deeds. If the enhanced life estate deed sounds like something you want to take advantage of as a Florida property owner, make sure you do so through a licensed real estate or estate planning attorney.
Contact the Law Office of Conrad Willkomm, P.A. today to create a Lady Bird deed in Florida!