The Texas lady bird deed form allows property to be automatically transferred to a new owner when the current owner dies, without the need to go through probate. It also gives the current owner retained control over the property, including the right to change his or her mind about the transfer.
Special language is required to ensure that the deed qualifies as a lady bird deed. This language is automatically included by our deed preparation service and valid in all Texas counties.
A Texas lady bird deed form combines a traditional life estate deed with a retained power to sell, convey, or mortgage the real estate without the remainder beneficiary’s consent. A Texas lady bird deed allows Texas property owners to avoid probate at death without sacrificing control over the property during life.
A lady bird deed form works by dividing ownership into different time periods. Before signing the deed, the current owner has full, outright ownership of the property (called fee simple ownership). Signing the deed changes this. It divides outright (fee simple) ownership into two legally distinct interests: A life estate, which lasts for the lifetime of the current owner, and a remainder interest, which does not allow possession until the death of the current owner.
In most cases, a lady bird deed transfers the property from and to the same person. Specifically, it transfers property from the current owner (as a fee simple owner) to the current owner (as a life tenant). The person who creates the deed continues to own the property for life as a life tenant. During his or her life, he or she can continue to use the property just as before.
A lady bird deed form also names one or more remainder beneficiaries. These remainder beneficiaries inherit the property at the death of the current owner. This at-death transfer occurs automatically at the death of the prior owner, without the need for probate.
A lady bird deed form also provides an enhanced benefit that makes it particularly attractive to Texas property owners: The person that signs the deed can change his or her mind about the transfer without involving the remainder beneficiaries. This retained control allows the original owner to sell, gift, mortgage, or lease the property. This enhancement distinguishes lady bird deeds from traditional life estate deeds.
Texas is one of five states that recognize lady bird deeds. The other states that recognize lady bird deeds are Florida, Michigan, Vermont, and West Virginia. In each state, the technical name for a lady bird deed is enhanced life estate deed. The life estate is “enhanced” in the sense that it provides the property owner with more retained control than a traditional life estate deed. A lady bird deed may also be called a ladybird deed (with no space between “lady” and “bird”).
Texas lady bird deeds provide several significant benefits that distinguish them from other Texas deed forms:
These benefits make lady bird deeds an attractive option for many Texas property owners.
The designation of a deed as a lady bird deed deals solely with the probate avoidance feature of the deed. Other deeds are named after the warranty of title that they provide (or don’t provide). In Texas, these other types of deeds include warranty deeds, special warranty deeds, quitclaim deeds, and deeds without warranty.
Because each of these deeds are named after the warranty of title, and because the warrant of title is independent of the probate avoidance feature of lady bird deeds, the same deed may be called by different names. For example, a Texas quitclaim deed may also be a Texas lady bird deed.
See What is the Right Title for Your Deed? For more information about deed titles.
Although lady bird deeds are used in Texas and recognized by Texas title insurance companies, they are not authorized by a specific statute. Instead, the exact form for a lady bird deed has been developed by Texas attorneys to meet the requirements of Texas title insurers.
Because the Texas lady bird deed form is not based on a statutory form, it is important to use a lady bird deed form that is customarily used under Texas law. The Texas lady bird deeds created by our Deed Generator are based on well-accepted forms developed by Texas attorneys to help their clients avoid probate at death while retaining control over the property during life.