Customized Estate Planning with Care and Compassion

What does a Florida Lady Bird deed mean for an estate plan?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Estate Planning

Estate planning is a complex process in part because every family has different needs. There are numerous different documents that can help people in a variety of different circumstances protect themselves, establish a meaningful legacy and provide support for their loved ones during a difficult time.

People are familiar with many of the basic estate planning documents, such as wills. A will is the simplest testamentary document in which someone can grant certain property to their chosen beneficiaries. However, a will is not always the best way of arranging for the transfer of personal resources. Certain assets require special consideration, particularly if someone has a complex family situation. For example, a Lady Bird deed is a very useful tool for property owners in Florida with specific plans for their homes.

What is a Lady Bird deed?

A Lady Bird deed is a document that addresses the occupancy and ownership of a piece of residential property. Lady Bird deeds are only legal in a handful of states, but Florida is one of those states. Also known as an enhanced life estate deed, a Lady Bird deed allows someone access to a property without granting them total control over it. Someone named as a life tenant in a Lady Bird deed can stay at a property until they die or choose to leave voluntarily. At that point, ownership of the property transfers to different beneficiaries.

Why do people use Lady Bird deeds?

Blended families are the most common reason for drafting Lady Bird deeds. Someone who remarries after divorce or the death of a spouse may want to ensure the comfort of their new spouse even after they die. However, they do not necessarily want to disappear it their children to provide that stability for their spouse. A Lady Bird deed could allow a stepparent to stay in the marital home until they die or remarry. At that point, the children who should inherit from someone’s estate can take possession of the property or list it for sale.

Lady Bird deeds can be useful in scenarios involving special needs children or other complex family circumstances. They can help someone qualify for Medicaid and keep one of their most valuable assets out of probate court. This is just one example of how understanding the different tools that can play a role in a Florida estate plan may help people select the right documents given their unique needs.