What is a Lady Bird Deed?

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A “Lady Bird Deed” is a nickname given to an Enhanced Life Estate Deed, which is used to convey property to your heirs outside of probate. This deed is commonly used in Texas because it allows the grantor to transfer property to beneficiaries while retaining a life estate in the property coupled with the power to sell, convey, or mortgage the property without the beneficiaries’ consent. The beneficiary of the deed does not get any rights to the property while the current owner is alive.

The Lady Bird Deed’s features include:

  • allowing the property owner to retain his homestead creditor and tax exemptions;
  • keeping the property owner’s home exempt from Medicaid claims during his lifetime;
  • allowing the property owner to pass the property to his heirs outside of probate upon death free of Medicaid claims and liens; and
  • allowing the property owner to live in the property, rent the property, or sell the property without the consent of the beneficiaries.

This deed is most helpful because a life estate is created and no trust is necessary. Instead of probating the owner’s estate, the beneficiary only has to file the death certificate in the local county records for the property to be transferred.

The main purposes of using a Lady Bird Deed is:

•avoid probate of the property
•keep the right to use and profit from the property for your lifetime
•keep the right to sell the property at any time
•avoid making a gift that might be subject to federal gift tax
•avoid jeopardizing your eligibility for Medicaid
•avoid the application of MERP

For a look at how this deed affects your living spouses homestead right, click HERE!

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18 thoughts on “What is a Lady Bird Deed?

    Michelle McGee McDaniel said:
    January 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    I live around Cedar Creek Lake area, about 30 mi from Dallas and my mother is looking for an atty who specializes in the lady bird deed – it appears you are familiar with this? If so, can you please send your phone # so that she may contact you.
    Thanks, Michelle McGee McDaniel

    Sharon Thompson said:
    March 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Does the Ladybird Deed replace a Will; or is a Will still needed for the balance of the assets to be divided?

    Shana F. said:
    May 7, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    If my mom does a Lady Bird deed, does that take away the exemption for calculating Medicaid eligibility? And does the Lady Bird deed protect the property from MERP?

    Jinny Mellin said:
    May 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    My husband and I are planning to move in with my mother-in-law (77 yrs old) to take care of her. Thus, we are selling our house which means we will not own our house any more. My mother in law has already set up a ladybird trust that grantee is my husband, so she doesn’t think that it’s necessary to have our names on the title of her house. My husband and I feel a bit insecure about moving in as we have young children to raise, and losing our house without air tight certainty that our family won’t ‘go on the street’ in case my mother-in-law may become senile that she wants to sell her home and/or give her house to the other son. I wonder if there’s a way to protect our family from this scenario? Someone suggested to have a warrantee deed, but I am not sure which steps to take. Would you kindly advise me on this? Thank you very much.

    Donna Hanna said:
    May 14, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Hi Patricia,
    My sister and I encountered a situation with a Lady Bird Deed. A woman that cleaned our father’s house filed the deed in the Bexar Co courthouse August 21, 2012. Our father had passed November 21, 2011. A will was signed by him October 5, 2011 leaving all property to my sister and myself. The will was probated and the property deed filed in our name on May 3, 2012. There is more information and a police report has been filed for fraud. Appears the notary has a history of selling her stamp and will not cooperate with the investigation. I guess my main question at this point is, Should’nt the will override the Lady Bird Deed?

    Debbie Daus said:
    July 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    My mother was moved to a nursing home and we are trying to get her approved for Medicaid. If her home and property is on a Lady Bird Deed, when she passes away is there any way the state of Texas or Medicaid can take the property? She has a Will and I am her only heir.

      patriciabcole responded:
      September 30, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      A lady bird transfers ownership of the property immediately upon death of the grantor. MERP only recovers assets she has at death.

    jesse said:
    July 22, 2013 at 9:32 am

    me and my girlfriend have been living together here in the state of texas for the past 6 years. her dad bought a house for her to livein 3 years ago and 2 months ago he decided he doesnt want me living with her anymore, and gave me the boot. i know his name is on the deed so i have no legal ground to stand on, or do i?. anyway she was thinking about getting him to sign a ladybird document, and for some reason she seems to think that she can then say to bad dad he is living with me, i know this sounds kinda silly and all, but i was just wondering if there can be any special clauses that can be added to the ladybird document, or as long has her fathers name is on the original/ladybird that he has the right to dictate who lives in the house.? anyway if that makes any sence or you might have some input, plz post back so i can read it.. thx

      patriciabcole responded:
      September 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      A lady bird deed does not give your GF the right to determine who lives in the hosue.

    Judy said:
    August 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I’m still missing something. Is this just a way to keep from selling property to go towards Medicare, or a lengthy stay in an old folks home, increasing value to go towards an heir? Just sounds too good to be true.

    Deborah Self said:
    September 16, 2013 at 12:10 am

    If there is a Lady Bird Deed in TX with me as the beneficiary and my parents are in a nursing home, what responsibilities do I have on the property? The property is a farm. Can I sign leases with the farmer and can I negotiate the lease on the property?

      patriciabcole responded:
      September 30, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      Your parents retained the right to lease the property with a proper lady bird deed, so no you can not lease the property unless you have a power of attorney from them. The lease would still be in your parent’s name but you would just execute it on their behalf. If you have no power of attorney and yoru parents lack capacity to give it to you then you probably need a guardianship over the parents.

        Bernice Watson said:
        November 17, 2014 at 6:27 pm

        Is it necessary to file or register a Lady Bird Deed with the county or state?

        patriciabcole responded:
        February 25, 2015 at 10:03 pm


    Ram Amaya said:
    September 30, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    We have a lady bird deed for father in
    Law. The deed named his granddaughter and grandson as heirs ( son and daughter) but he has been in a nursing home for three years . Now we received property tax bill. My wife which is the daughter and I along with our two kids have be ending living in the property. Both wife
    And me are receiving SS disability and would like to a redo deed take our kids off so they will not be burden with taxes. Both are in school . New law has affected our original plan can you help?

      patriciabcole responded:
      September 30, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      You can not redo the deed unless all parties sign it. You do not need to take the kids off the deed, just pay the taxes yourself.

    Ilene allen said:
    July 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I have a lady bird on 4 prpperies of my Mothers. She has since passed and I have a property about to be sold.I’m told you can’t probate the lady bird deed, which will be of great relief to me . I had to pay all funersl bills and otherbills myself without help from the heirs listed on the deeds. Can I be reimburst for these before they recieve their parts?

      patriciabcole responded:
      July 25, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Not likely. The lady bird deed transfers immediately to the named parties on the deed upon death. It is not a probate asset. Why did you pay the bills yourself? If the estate was insolvent, then you should have just let the creditors (except funeral cost) go unpaid.

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