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How To Avoid Probate Through “Lady Bird” Deeds

How to Avoid Probate Through “Lady Bird” Deeds

Avoiding probate and ensuring a smooth transition of your property to your loved ones is possible with the right estate plan in place. A “Lady Bird” deed could be a key component of this plan, so let’s explore how this type of deed can streamline the transfer of property after your passing and potentially save your family time, money, and stress. 

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of validating a person’s will, the payment of debts, and distributing their assets after they’ve passed away. If you have a will, probate is a key step in the process of ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes. If you die without a will (intestate), Texas law dictates how your assets are handled. Either way, probate can be a long, costly process that your loved ones must endure to claim their rightful inheritances during an already difficult time. 

What Is a “Lady Bird” Deed?

In the 1970s, as they were making estate planning decisions, President Johnson and First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson sought a way to transfer their property to their children while still retaining certain rights and control over it during their lifetimes. They worked with their attorney to devise a unique type of deed that accomplished these goals. This became known as a “Lady Bird” deed due to its association with Lady Bird Johnson.

The “Lady Bird” deed is a type of enhanced life estate deed that’s recognized in a few states, including Texas. This deed allows you, as a property owner, to bequeath your real estate to your beneficiaries while retaining complete control and ownership of the property for the rest of your life. 

How Does a “Lady Bird” Deed Work?

With a “Lady Bird” deed, you maintain the right to use, sell, mortgage, or lease the property without needing to consult the future beneficiaries. This differs from a traditional life estate deed, where you’d need their consent for such actions. If you still own the property at your death, it passes directly to your designated beneficiaries without going through probate. 

Pros and Cons of “Lady Bird” Deeds

“Lady Bird” deeds aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions, but they do offer several advantages. They allow your loved ones to avoid the time, cost, and public exposure of probate. They also provide flexibility, as you can change future beneficiaries or sell your property without the beneficiaries’ consent. Plus, as you retain ownership, a “Lady Bird” deed doesn’t trigger a “due on sale” clause in a mortgage. But perhaps, the best part of a Lady Bird deed is that the home remains your homestead, protected from most judgments.

However, there are potential downsides. For example, a beneficiary couldn’t sell their interest in a “Lady Bird” deed property during your lifetime, which might not suit all families. Also, “Lady Bird” deeds aren’t recognized in all states, so if you own property elsewhere, you might need a different strategy. 

How Could a “Lady Bird” Deed Help My Family Avoid Probate?

By using a “Lady Bird” deed, your property goes directly to your beneficiaries upon your death, bypassing the probate process entirely. This means your loved ones can avoid the time and expense of probate. It also means your loved ones gain immediate access to the property after your passing, which can be a significant relief at a challenging time. 

How Can a Lawyer Help Me with My Estate Plan?

At Hargrave Law, PC in Bedford, we don’t just fill out forms—we provide the personalized guidance you need to explore your options and make informed decisions. With our extensive knowledge of Texas law and estate planning strategies, including “Lady Bird” deeds, we can craft a solid estate plan on your behalf that suits your unique circumstances and goals. Whether you’re starting from scratch or modifying an existing plan, we’re here to help.

Remember, estate planning isn’t just about distributing your assets. It’s about peace of mind, knowing you’ve done everything possible to safeguard your family and legacy. At Hargrave Law, PC, we take your peace of mind seriously. Contact us today at 817-282-0679 to schedule a consultation. Let’s work together to create an estate plan that reflects your wishes and protects the people you love.

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