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Tampa Estate Planning Attorney > Blog > Estate Planning > Enhanced Life Estate Deeds: Generational Wealth For The 99 Percent

Enhanced Life Estate Deeds: Generational Wealth For The 99 Percent


Florida is not like everywhere else, and that is why we love it.  Florida is the only place in the world that is a natural habitat for an alligator species (the American alligator) and a crocodile species (the American crocodile).  The far-fetched ways that Floridians go about achieving their goals has led to a whole genre of Florida Man myths.  Florida is also one of only five states that recognizes enhanced life estate deeds, also known as lady bird deeds.  At its best, a lady bird deed is an ingeniously inexpensive way to transfer a real estate property to a family member without going through probate.  Executing an enhanced life estate deed makes one of your heirs a transfer on death beneficiary of your house, but as long as you are alive, you have the right to live in the house as well as to sell it; in other words, you have all the rights of ownership.  To find out more about lady bird deeds and other lesser-known estate planning strategies, contact a Tampa estate planning attorney.

Gifting Real Estate Property Is More Complicated Than It Sounds

Enhanced life estate deeds are not the only way to transfer your house to a family member outside of probate.  If the person who will inherit your house is your spouse, you can simply own the house jointly.  When two spouses own a house together, the surviving spouse simply becomes sole owner of the house upon the death of the first spouse.

It is also possible to own a house jointly with a family member other than your spouse, but not everyone would consider this a desirable situation.  It means treating your child (or your sibling or whichever family member owns the house with you) as a financial partner, which could be a source of constant conflict.  Another option is to transfer complete ownership of the house to your child while you are alive by executing a quitclaim deed, but this is not an ideal situation for everyone, either.  Even if the house was a gift, the recipient might struggle with the expenses associated with it, such as property taxes.

The Best of Both Worlds?

A lady bird deed enables you to list a family member as a payable on death beneficiary for your house, the way you would for a bank account.  If, at any point in your life, you decide that you do not want to leave the house to your family member, you can remove them as a beneficiary, although this requires a considerable amount of paperwork.  If you sell the house, the lady bird deed automatically becomes invalid, and the beneficiary of the lady bird deed no longer has any claim on the house.

Contact David Toback With Questions About Enhanced Life Estate Deeds

A Central Florida probate lawyer can help you transfer real estate property to a family member, whether through a revocable trust, an enhanced life estate deed, or some other means.  Contact David Toback in Tampa, Florida to set up a consultation.



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