Enhanced Life Estate Deed
An Enhanced Life Estate Deed or “Ladybird Deed” is a legal document that transfers interest in real property, or real estate, to someone else during the owner’s lifetime while reserving property rights to the original owner. Under a Ladybird Deed, the original owner of the property or “Grantor” retains a life estate in the real property, as well as the right to sell the property and retain the proceeds of the sale of the real property. The person to whom the property is transferred, or “Grantee”, under a Ladybird Deed receives all of the remaining interest in the real property. At the death of the Grantor, all interest in the property under a Ladybird Deed belongs to the Grantee, but only if the Grantor did not sell the property or otherwise transfer his remaining interest to someone else during lifetime through a concurrently or subsequently executed Will, Trust, or other legal instrument.
A Ladybird Deed is signed by the Grantor and is often notarized and recorded in the county deed records much like any other deed. A benefit of the Ladybird Deed, much like the Transfer on Death Deed, is that it can potentially operate to transfer real property to someone else outside of the probate process.
However, a Ladybird Deed is not a creature of Texas statute. Therefore, some title companies may refuse to insure title to real property subject to a Ladybird Deed if the deed is poorly worded, ambiguous, is not also signed by the Grantee, is signed by an agent under a power of attorney instead of the Grantor, or does not contain warranty of title, among other reasons. In other words, a Ladybird Deed is a complicated legal instrument and the legal effect of making a Ladybird Deed should be discussed with an estate planning attorney or other legal counsel prior to executing such a deed.The information provided on this page is for educational purposes only and is NOT legal advice. You should consult an estate planning attorney if you have any questions about the information contained on this page or about your particular circumstances or those of someone you know.
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