Do you need 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.  However, these deeds are outdated!

In Texas you do not need a Lady Bird Deed because the Texas Legislature created a Transfer on Death deed with a new law.  This new law allows property to transfer at death to someone else, so no probate is needed.  A Transfer on Death deed conveys property outside of probate. Avoiding probate allows for you to avoid court costs and administrative costs to deed the property to your beneficiary. Under current Texas law, it also excludes the real property from Medicaid estate recovery.

The Transfer on Death deed can only transfer real property (ie home, commercial property, etc) and the deed must be formal in all ways and filed with the local real property records office.  Anyone can sign a Transfer on Death deed but they must have the capacity to understand what they are doing or the deed could be found to be invalid.  You should consider retaining an attorney to prepare this deed as the cost would not be large.

29 thoughts on “Do you need 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.

        Evelyn M. said:
        November 10, 2017 at 1:19 am

        How long do you have to have your property in a Lady Bird Deed before you can go to a nursing home and have it paid by medicaid?

        patriciabcole responded:
        January 7, 2018 at 9:36 pm

        There is no time limit on a Lady Bird Deed. A house is an exempt asset in most states and won’t prevent someone from qualifying.

        Evelyn M. said:
        January 8, 2018 at 12:05 am

        I know my house is exempt when I go to a nursing home, however If I have investments and I have to go to a nursing home Do I need a Lady Bird Deed to keep the State from taking all of my investments before they will pay for the nursing home care even though I have a will.

    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


        patriciabcole responded:
        April 27, 2015 at 2:52 pm

        All deeds must be filed in the real property records of the county where the property is located to be perfected. If not filed then you could lose the effect of the lady bird provisions.

    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.

    Debbie Watkins said:
    December 18, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Both parents are named in the deed of the house. If one parent dies, the other is still living. What happens to the house if on Lady Bird Deed?

      patriciabcole responded:
      April 27, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      The life estate retained in a lady bird belongs to both spouses equally until they BOTH die.

    Pam Fitzsimons said:
    April 13, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    How is the Lady Bird deed acquired? Is a closing required? Thank you so much!!

      patriciabcole responded:
      April 27, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      A lady bird deed is drafted by an attorney that specializes in these types of special deeds, then executed by the party giving the remainder away in front of a notary. No closing is required.

        Pam Fitzsimons said:
        April 27, 2015 at 4:06 pm

        Thank you very much for your response.

    WrenchMonkey47 said:
    June 8, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    If a quit claim deed has already been filed and the property (house) is part of a revocable trust, is a lady bird deed of any use?

      patriciabcole responded:
      June 11, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      To transfer all but a life estate (what a lady bird does) in the property, the property would have to be taken out of a Rev. Trust and deeded back to the testator. However, if the testator is incapacitated then the Rev. Trust might be irrevocable. You should seek legal counsel for a more definite answer.

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