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Avoid Probate: The Lady Bird Deed

Many of our clients regularly seek guidance on how to avoid the probate process.  The reason for doing so is that the probate process is both costly and time consuming.  Accordingly, many Floridians turn to trusts, life estates and now “lady bird” deeds to help ensure their properties can be easily transferred to loved ones upon their death.

What is a lady bird deed?

A ladybird deed is a deed whereby the property owner (grantor) deeds the property to him/herself for life and then to a third party at the time of their death (the remaindermen).  The third party can be children, charities, etc.  The deed secures the grantor’s interest in the property for their lifetime. Then, upon the grantor’s death, the remaindermen simply file the death certificate and the property can transfer without need for probate.

Why Use a Lady Bird Deed?

A lady bird deed is a cost effective method to avoid the probate process and provides the grantor with more flexibility than previous conveyances. More specifically, the lady bird deed allows the grantor the ability to sell, mortgage or otherwise dispose of the property without the consent of the remaindermen during the lifetime of the grantor.  Traditionally, simply granting a life estate precluded the grantor from selling or encumbering the property without the consent of all remaindermen.  In short, the grantor gave up their freedom to dispose of the property in exchange for avoiding the probate process.  However, now that Florida recognizes lady bird deeds, grantors may enjoy more flexibility, while also knowing that their loved ones will not have to deal with the probate courts upon their death.

Another common technique for avoiding probate is the revocable trust.  A lady bird deed is a much more cost effective vehicle than a trust.  Generally speaking, trusts are reserved for high net worth individuals and are typically quite expensive to prepare.  On the other hand, a lady bird deed achieves a similar purpose for real estate, but at a much smaller cost.

Discuss A Lady Bird Deed With Your Tampa Real Estate Attorney

If you or a loved one are considering estate planning techniques to avoid probate, then call the experienced Tampa Real Estate Attorneys at DeWitt Law Firm, P.A. to assist with your lady bird deed.