What is a Lady Bird Deed?

Lady BirdA "Lady Bird deed" (also known as an enhanced life estate deed) is a way to transfer property to someone else outside of probate while retaining a life estate in the property. In Maryland, there are two options for this type of life estate deed.

Life Estate Deed With Powers.

One of the purposes of this type of Maryland life estate deed is to avoid probate. Retaining powers allows the grantor the power to sell, mortgage, or convey the property as the grantor wishes during his or her lifetime.

Maryland Life Estate Deed Without Powers. 

This type of life estate deed is often used when planning for Medicaid. With this deed the grantor gives-up the power to sell, mortgage, or convey the property to others. Written consent of the remainderman is required. For Medicaid this type of deed is considered a gift and the gift penalty rules apply. The advantage of this type of deed is that after five years the look-back period for Medicaid expires and the value of the life estate will not be considered an asset for Medicaid eligibility purposes.

A Lady Bird Deed:

  • Helps to bypass probate of the property
  • May provide Medicaid eligibility (5 year look-back)
  • Allows the grantor to sell the property and benefit from it during his or her lifetime
  • May avoid a gift subject to federal gift tax

Also Relevant Under Maryland Law: No deed, mortgage, or deed of trust may be recorded unless it bears the certification of an attorney at law that the instrument has been prepared by an attorney or under an attorney’s supervision, or a certification that the instrument was prepared by one of the parties named in the instrument.

 A Life Estate Deed is a legal document that grants ownership of a parcel of real property (your house, your land) to two separate parties: (1) the Life Tenant, and (2) the Remainderman.

Please contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area for more information.