As a family law attorney, my areas of expertise include divorce, child support and other family related matters. I also do basic wills and probate. Occasionally, however, I have a family member or close friend who needs advice on another type of law. When that happens, I research the problem and give them my limited advice. That is how I learned about lady bird deeds, which offer a simple way to transfer real estate at your death without probate. Please note, I am not a real estate lawyer or an elder law attorney and this is not intended as legal advice. I’m simply sharing with you what I learned.

An elderly relative needed my help. He owns a small homestead where he lived until his recent move to a nursing home. He has been living on a small retirement fund and social security, and the homestead is his only asset. He has one son, who has disabilities. My relative wanted to deed the small homestead to his son without affecting my relative’s Medicaid or other government benefits. The solution was a lady bird deed, which gave my relative a life estate in the real property—meaning he could live there if he wished—and upon his death, title would transfer to his son without affecting any of his benefits.

Ronald Lipman’s column “State Your Case”, June 23, in the Houston Chronicle discusses the lady bird deed. If you have a similar situation or a relative who needs advice on lady bird deeds, contact a real estate or elder law attorney for advice.