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Tampa Estate Planning Attorney > Blog > Probate > Heed The Sweet Song Of Lady Bird Deeds

Heed The Sweet Song Of Lady Bird Deeds


Estate planning begins with a honeymoon period of design thinking about the ways that you can use your money to make yourself and others happy.  After that phase ends, though, and you get into details about how much everything will cost, it is easy to get mired in pessimism about everyone else’s greed.  If you let your assets pass through probate, you are only enriching the IRS.  Your children would love it if you would start handing over your money to them as an early inheritance, but wouldn’t you just be feeding their sense of entitlement?  Besides, if you give them more than $15,000 in one year, which is the current amount of the annual gift tax exclusion, the IRS will take its cut, anyway.  It is depressing enough to think about these scenarios with your money, but it is even worse with your family home, which has sentimental value, as well as economic value.  A lady bird deed might be just what you need to transfer your house to a family member without probate, while not giving your heirs or anyone else the chance to steamroll over your rights while you are alive.  A Hillsborough County estate planning lawyer can help you make the best decisions about your house and other valuable items of property.

Lady Bird Deeds in Florida Estate Law

A lady bird deed is the best of both worlds when it comes to keeping your house and signing it over to a family member.  Florida is one of only five states that allow lady bird deeds as a way of transferring ownership of a real estate property.  The two elements of a lady bird deed are enhanced life estate and transfer on death benefits.  Imagine that you execute a lady bird deed for your house, with your brother as the beneficiary.  On the one hand, you will have an enhanced life estate in the house.  Life estate simply means that you have the right to stay in the house for the rest of your life.  (In some families, life estate in the marital home is a consolation prize for stepmothers whose stepchildren have inherited the entirety of their father’s estate.)  Meanwhile, enhanced life estate means that you get to stay in the house and make all the decisions about it.  If you have executed a lady bird deed with your brother as the beneficiary, you can sell the house without your brother’s consent.  If you sell the house, it will belong entirely to the buyer.  The lady bird deed will no longer apply, and your brother will no longer have a claim on the house after you die.  The biggest drawback to lady bird deeds is that the law is ambiguous about what happens if the beneficiary predeceases the original owner.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

A Tampa probate lawyer can help you transfer your real estate property to your next of kin, or any other beneficiary you choose, as inexpensively as possible.  Contact David Toback for help with your case.

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