A Florida transfer on death deed, also known as a lady bird deed, is a legal document allowing Florida property owners to pass their real estate to a beneficiary upon their death without the property having to go through probate. This type of deed has become increasingly popular as it provides a straightforward way to transfer property, helping to avoid the often lengthy and costly probate process. Here’s an overview of its key aspects:

  1. Definition: A transfer on death deed allows a property owner (the grantor) to designate one or more beneficiaries who will automatically inherit the property upon the grantor’s death. This type of deed is only effective upon death and does not affect the property owner’s rights during their lifetime.
  2. Avoidance of Probate: One of the primary advantages of a transfer on death deed is that it allows the property to bypass the probate process, which can be time-consuming and expensive. The transfer of ownership happens automatically upon the property owner’s death, without court involvement.
  3. Retained Rights: The grantor retains full control over the property until their death. This means they can sell, lease, mortgage, or otherwise use or encumber the property without the beneficiary’s consent. The grantor can also revoke or change the transfer on death deed at any time before their death.
  4. Flexibility and Revocability: The grantor can change the beneficiary or revoke the deed entirely at any time before their death. This flexibility allows for changes in circumstances or intentions without significant legal hurdles.
  5. Execution and Recording: To be valid, a transfer on death deed must be properly executed according to Florida law, which includes requirements such as having the deed signed, witnessed, and notarized. The deed must then be recorded in the county’s public records where the property is located.
  6. No Guarantees Against Liens or Debts: While a transfer on death deed can transfer property efficiently, it does not protect the beneficiary from any liens or debts attached to the property. The inherited property may still be subject to claims from creditors.
  7. Legal and Tax Implications: Using a transfer on death deed can have legal and tax implications, both for the grantor during their lifetime and for the beneficiary after the grantor’s death.
  8. Not a Substitute for a Will or Estate Plan: A transfer on death deed is a tool for estate planning, but it is not a comprehensive solution. It only covers the property described in the deed and does not address other assets or issues that might be covered in a will or broader estate plan.

How to Set Up a Transfer on Death Deed in Florida

To execute a transfer on death deed in Florida:

  1. Draft the Deed: Create a deed that specifies it transfers property upon death.
  2. Include Necessary Information: Detail property description and beneficiary names.
  3. Comply with Legal Formalities: Ensure the deed complies with Florida law for real estate deeds.
  4. Sign in the Presence of Witnesses and a Notary: Sign the deed before a notary public and two witnesses.
  5. Record the Deed: File it with the county recorder’s office where the property is located.