Lady Bird Deed Attorney

If you own Florida real estate and you’re trying to build an estate plan, you might have received advice to look into a Lady Bird Deed. A Lady Bird Deed is one legal tool that might fit your situation when you’re trying to figure out how to pass down your assets to the next generation.


This type of deed is especially important if you want to maintain current control of your property while you’re still alive. And, it’s commonly used to avoid probate.


William C. Roof is here to help you navigate whether a Lady Bird Deed might be right for your situation. Call us today to set up a consultation.

What is a Lady Bird Deed?

A Lady Bird deed is a legal document that transfers ownership of your property to a named person (beneficiary) upon your death. This structure allows the property to avoid Probate, the sometimes long and public legal process of having your estate distributed after you pass away.


A Lady Bird Deed allows you to maintain control of the property until you pass, because the title does not vest in the beneficiary until you pass. This means you can decide to change the named beneficiary. Or, you can even decide to sell the property instead. You don’t have to consult your named beneficiary, because he or she does not yet have title.


For these reasons, this deed is also known as an “Enhanced Life Estate Deed.” This means that the property owner can sell, mortgage, or gift the property without seeking consent from the designated beneficiaries.

Are Lady Bird Deeds Allowed in Florida?

Yes. Florida is one of the few states that recognizes Lady Bird Deeds to transfer property. Using a Lady Bird Deed means that you become a “life tenant” on your property. You live there, but you’ve already executed a document transferring the property to a named person upon your death. The Lady Bird Deed gives you more power over the property than a basic “life estate.”

Requirements for a Lady Bird Deed in Florida 

There are a few basic building blocks that make a functioning Lady Bird deed in Florida:


  • Competent Grantor
    This means you, as the “grantor” (or person transferring the property) have to be of sound mind. If you are not mentally competent and your family is pressuring you to do it, you probably wouldn’t be considered a competent grantor. If you have questions about the competence of a loved one, seek guidance from a Lady Bird Deed Attorney.


  • Property Ownership
    This might seem obvious: You, as the grantor, have to actually own the property you want to transfer to the grantee (the person you are transferring to). And, you have to have real proof that you own the property you are transferring to the grantee. Additionally, the property should be free from any kind of dispute, liens, or encumbrances. If found otherwise, then it should be addressed immediately before executing the deed, or else it may directly impact the validity of the deed.

  • Beneficiary Designation
    To execute a Lady Bird deed, you have to name the person you want to transfer the property to (the beneficiary). In Florida, it is crucial to clearly identify and specify the beneficiary’s name, stating the relationship between the grantor and the beneficiary in the deed. The named beneficiary in the deed becomes the owner of the property after the grantor’s death without going through the probate process. If you want to leave a property to multiple people, you can list each of the people and their percentage ownership of the property. Whether they own as tenants in common or as joint tenants with a right of survivorship are issues you should discuss with your Lady Deed Attorney.


  • Estate’s Legal Description
    You have to give an accurate legal description of the property being transferred in the deed. This legal description includes the property’s address, size, shape, relevant boundaries, and any physical markers that define the property or restrictions. It serves the purpose of identifying the property which is associated with the deed. Be sure to avoid any ambiguity.

Advantages of a Lady Bird Deed

In Florida, these deeds give you advantages over a normal life estate:


  • Retained Control
    One of the key benefits of a Lady Bird Deed, unlike a traditional life estate deed, is that the grantor retains complete control and rights over the property during their lifetime. This makes it easier for the grantor to sell, mortgage, lease, or make changes to the property without seeking any permission from the beneficiary. So, although you’ve picked out the person to take over the property at your death, you aren’t giving up any control while you’re still alive.


  • Probate Avoidance
    Unlike traditional wills, these deeds allow the transfer of the property to the beneficiary directly without the need for probate and involvement in court procedures. This seamless property transfer saves time and money for both the grantor’s estate and beneficiaries.


  • Flexibility
    You can change or revoke it at any time in your lifetime. For example, if you decide you’d like the property to go to someone else, you can change it at any time. This feature helps the grantor to remain flexible with his or her estate planning needs. The grantor can change the terms and conditions of the deed with ever-changing circumstances.


  • Cost-effective
    A Lady Bird Deed can serve as a cheaper way to configure your estate planning, especially if your main asset is your only residence. You can keep estate planning simple by setting up this type of deed and avoiding probate.


  • Estate Protection
    A Lady Bird Deed can provide a better way to secure the property. Since the property isn’t included as a probate estate, it possibly can be kept safe from creditors and legal judgments–depending on the circumstances.

Disadvantages of a Lady Bird Deed 

Although this type of deed can be effective and simple, there may be a few drawbacks:


    1. Risk to Estate Plan

Should the beneficiary die before the grantor, there may not be clear instructions about what will happen to the property once the grantor dies. If not corrected in time, this can lead the property to probate upon the grantor’s passing. So, if your named beneficiary were to pass away, you should be ready to change your deed to name another person.


    1. Title Insurance Companies

Title insurance companies in Florida may not treat these Lady Bird Deeds equally. Hence, when transferring the estate, the company might ask for the beneficiary’s signature on the documents to avoid risks.


    1. Complex to Change

Although these deeds are known for being flexible, changing a condition or the named beneficiary can sometimes be touchy.


Reach out to our team to discuss whether these drawbacks outweigh the advantages for your situation.

How Lady Bird Deed Can Help with Medicaid and Homestead Exemption?

A Lady Bird Deed can be a valuable estate planning tool that simultaneously assists with Medicaid Planning and preserves Florida’s Homestead exemption, which is a vitally important factor for Florida residents.


Here’s the gist: A Lady Bird Deed can exempt your property from counting against you when you are trying to qualify for Medicaid. Whereas, if your property qualifies for Florida’s Homestead exemption, there should be property tax benefits, including reductions in assessed property value and property tax liabilities.


Using a Lady Bird Deed should allow the grantor’s property to maintain its Homestead status, even while designating beneficiaries to inherit the property through a Lady Bird Deed. This ensures that the property continues to benefit from Homestead exemptions.


Under Medicaid rules, a Homestead property is typically exempt from being counted as an asset when determining Medicaid eligibility. Since the property is generally not considered a countable asset for Medicaid eligibility purposes, it can be protected from Medicaid estate recovery.


By combining Medicaid planning with the preservation of Homestead exemptions, a Lady Bird Deed can provide a well-rounded solution for homeowners who wish to protect their property for their heirs while still potentially qualifying for Medicaid benefits in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lady Bird Deeds

  1. Can I prepare my own?
    The law doesn’t prevent you from preparing your own deed, but it’s important to get it right. An estate planning attorney can help you prevent mishaps like ending up in probate court because you weren’t able to properly prepare the deed.
  2. How much does it cost to file a Lady Bird Deed?
    It can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the deed, attorney fees, recording fees, etc. Contact our office to get a more specific estimate of your costs.
  3. How do you fill out a Lady Bird Deed?
    You can fill out a Lady Bird Deed by specifying the property’s description, owner, beneficiary’s name, notarizing and recording the deed and addressing any specific condition.
  4. What is the purpose of a Lady Bird Deed in Florida?
    The purpose of the deed is to name the person you want to inherit your property, avoid probate after your death, seamlessly transition the property, and retain some flexibility. At the owner’s death, it will immediately be transferred.

  1. Can a Lady Bird Deed be revoked?
    If you decide you do not want to transfer property to the named beneficiary, you can revoke it.
  2. How does a Lady Bird Deed work?
    A Lady Bird Deed works by transferring the ownership of the property to the beneficiary upon the owner’s death while keeping intact all the rights of a grantor over the property during their lifetime.
  3. Do I need to hire an attorney? How can an attorney help me?
    You are not required to hire an attorney, but the process can be complicated. An estate planning attorney can help guide you through your options. A Lady Bird Deed attorney will give you legal advice and ensure the deed is properly drafted, executed, and aligned with your goals.
  4. Does a Lady Bird Deed have to be recorded in Florida?
    If you want the Lady Bird Deed to be effective in Florida, it must be recorded in Florida.

Elevate Your Estate Planning with Us

A Lady Bird Deed is a powerful tool to boost your estate planning. Whether you have a large and complex estate, or you just want to make sure your loved ones can enjoy your home in the future, we can help you plan your future. Contact us today to get started.


The contents of this article are not comprehensive, they provide only a general overview of the subject matter discussed. This article does not establish a client-attorney relationship with the reader, and no legal decisions should be made based on the article’s contents. Because every legal matter arises under unique facts specific to the client, no legal decision should be made without consulting a licensed attorney.

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