“Lady Bird” or Beneficiary Deeds

Most clients seek to avoid having their assets at death pass through the supervision of probate court. They are concerned about fees imposed by the court, attorney’s fees and delays in distribution of assets. Fortunately, most of these concerns are exaggerated or unrealistic, but irregardless a direct transfer of assets on death is often the best choice.
Historically assets such as life insurance, annuities and bank accounts were transferred at death simply by naming a beneficiary. Clients with real estate assets were not so fortunate, and unless they had a trust, real estate went through the probate court’s supervision.
More recently “lady bird” or “beneficiary” deeds have been recognized as a valid and effective method of transferring real estate directly on death. Through such deeds clients are allowed to retain all rights of ownership (such as the right to sell or mortgage the property) during their lifetimes. At death, title to the property passes to the named individual(s) or trust by simply recording a death certificate.

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