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Lady Bird Deeds: A Primer for the Texas Practitioner

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Title: Lady Bird Deeds: A Primer for the Texas Practitioner
Author: Beyer, Gerry W.
Abstract: Many people think that the “Lady Bird” deed became known as such because President Johnson once used this type of deed to transfer property to his wife, “Lady Bird” Johnson. In reality, the first Lady Bird deed was drafted by Florida attorney Jerome Ira Solkoff around 1982, nearly ten years after the death of President Johnson. In his elder law book and lecture materials, Solkoff used a fictitious cast of characters with the names Linton, Lady Bird, Lucie, and Lynda in examples explaining the usefulness of this new type of deed, and the names became associated with the deed. Jerome’s son, Scott Solkoff, jokes that the Lady Bird deed “could easily have become known as the “Genghis Khan deed.” Lady Bird deeds, more formally known as enhanced life estate deeds, allow 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. Few states permit Lady Bird deeds, including Texas, and only nine states have specifically adopted Lady Bird deed statutes, including Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wisconsin. This article aims to educate estate planning professionals on the basics of Lady Bird deeds in Texas by discussing the different reasons one would want to use a Lady Bird deed and the alternatives to doing so. In addition, this article addresses some of the uncertainty surrounding, and concerns involved with, using Lady Bird deeds as part of an estate plan.
Description: Co-authored by Kerri M. Griffin
Date: 2011-01

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