Enhanced Life Estate Deeds aka Ladybird Deeds preferred

June 21, 2018

With a "regular" life estate deed, the owner of the real estate makes a gift of the property to beneficiaries, called remaindermen. He can't mortgage or sell the property during his lifetime without the permission and "joinder" of the remaindermen. Joinder means that they're parties to the mortgage or sale. He effectively gives the property away—and unilateral control of the property—during his lifetime. 

 

With an "enhanced" life estate, or Ladybird Deed, the owner of the real estate, referred to as the "life tenant," retains complete control over the property during his lifetime. He has the right to mortgage or sell the real estate without the consent of his beneficiaries or the remaindermen named in the deed because he hasn't actually given the property to them yet. The property doesn't transfer until his death. 

 

Some of the benefits of the Ladybird Deed include:

1. The condominium association approval is not generally required.;

2. The grantor should not need mortgage company approval;
3. The transfer should not affect homestead tax exemption;
4. The grantor may sell or mortgage the property without the grantee's consent, although some title companies request it;
5. There's no need to file a gift tax return because the IRS considers the transfer an incomplete gift;
6. In most cases, the value of the interest transferred is not viewed as a completed gift for Medicaid purposes and therefore does not extend the "look-back period" delaying access to Medicaid benefits to pay for skilled nursing home care.

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