Unleashing the Power of the ‘Lady Bird’ Deed: Enhanced Life Estate Deeds, One of Florida’s Best Tools for Estate Planning

The state of Florida is well known for its beautiful sunny skies, impressive real estate, and favorable estate planning laws; however, there is one estate planning tool that Florida offers that is extremely powerful, saves thousands of dollars by avoiding probate, and is surprisingly underutilized by many property owners, and that is the enhanced life estate deed (ELE Deed). An ELE Deed, also known as a “lady bird deed,” is a unique estate planning tool that allows property owners to take title to real property and designate a beneficiary to the real property on the same deed. Through the use of an ELE Deed, a property owner can take a life interest in their real property, called a life tenancy, for the duration of their life, while transferring a future interest, called the remainder, to their designated beneficiary(ies), called remaindermen, after the property owner/life tenant’s death.
An ELE Deed allows the property owner to:
  • avoid probate administration – and the fees and costs, for the transfer of the property after the property owners death;
  • enjoy the right to use and control the property during the property owner/life tenant’s lifetime;
  • retain the right to sell the property at any time;
  • avoid federal gift tax; and
  • avoid jeopardizing Medicaid eligibility.
The ELE deed is very similar to the regular life estate deed, except that the remaindermen do not have the power to control or transfer any portion of the property until the death of the property owner/life tenant. The property owner/life tenant has the full power and authority to sell, convey, mortgage, lease, to terminate the remainder interest, or otherwise manage and dispose of the property, in fee simple, without the consent or joinder of the remaindermen. Although the remaindermen only have a future interest in the property, the property interest still avoids probate administration because the property owner transferred the title during his/her life.
We are here to assist you if you have any questions on how to effectively take ownership in Florida real estate through the use of an ELE Deed, or if you would like to discuss other estate planning and tax matters. We encourage you to speak with your local real estate or estate planning attorney for guidance.
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
Article Authored by Pamela Hernandez, Esq. phernandez@berlinpatten.com
This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
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