Where Did the Name "Lady Bird Deed" Originate?

In estate planning, a Lady Bird Deed is a document often utilized to pass real property to an individual’s heirs after death. The formal name for a Lady Bird Deed is “Enhanced Life Estate Deed,” and it is often utilized to avoid probate when setting up an estate plan.

The legend of the Lady Bird Deed

While the Lady Bird Deed is a valuable tool in the estate planning process, its nickname is what often piques the interest of those in the legal and estate planning fields.

Many believe the origin of the name dates back to President Lyndon B. Johnson, whose lawyers allegedly drafted the first Lady Bird Deed in order to ensure the president’s assets were seamlessly transferred to his wife, Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson. Upon Lady Bird’s death, the property would then pass to their children without delay or the use of probate court, a trust, or a will.

A hunt for the original Lady Bird Deed revealed that the origin of the deed was a myth. The Lyndon B. Johnson Library archivist, the financial administrators of Mrs. Johnson’s estate, and the title companies where the Johnson Ranch is located have no information regarding land transfers that would have utilized a Lady Bird Deed. Even the surviving members of the Johnson family were not aware of such a deed, according to a 2015 report by attorney Kary Frank.

Where did the name “Lady Bird Deed” originate?

So, where did the term originate? According to Frank, Florida attorney Jerome Ira Solkoff is believed to have coined the term Lady Bird Deed in 1982, which was almost 10 years after the death of President Johnson. In his lecture materials and elder law book, Solkoff used fictional characters named Linton, Lady Bird, Lucie, and Lynda to describe the benefits of this type of deed. Over time, the fictional name became associated with the deed itself.

Who would use a Lady Bird deed?

A Lady Bird Deed is a type of deed that allows the creator to quickly transfer property to a named beneficiary without probate. A Lady Bird Deed is ideal for those who are leaving property to one beneficiary. Those with multiple properties and beneficiaries may wish to consider a Living Trust.

Help is available

If you are interested in utilizing a Lady Bird Deed or a Living Trust in your estate planning, please call the attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio at 586-726-1000 or visit our website.