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Estate Planning


Bypassing Medicaid Estate Recovery Program Claims through a Ladybird Deed in Texas

Bypassing Medicaid Estate Recovery Program Claims through a Ladybird Deed in Texas


Troy Moore

July 31, 2023

August 25, 2023

Bypassing Medicaid Estate Recovery Program Claims through a Ladybird Deed in Texas

In a society where healthcare costs often weigh heavily on individuals and families, especially those who need long-term care, Medicaid presents a welcome relief. However, this relief sometimes comes with a potential future liability known as the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP). For those leaving behind properties and assets, MERP may present unexpected challenges to beneficiaries. Fortunately, there is a legal strategy to mitigate this in the Lone Star State – the Ladybird Deed. This article will delve into how you can use a Ladybird Deed to avoid a Medicaid Estate Recovery claim in Texas.

Understanding the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP)

Before diving into the solution, it's important to understand the problem. The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) is a federally mandated program that seeks reimbursement for long-term healthcare costs provided by Medicaid. Upon the death of the recipient, MERP can file a claim against the decedent's estate, which may include real estate, bank accounts, or other assets.

It's crucial to note that MERP claims can significantly impact the inheritance meant for the deceased's heirs. However, some planning tools, such as a Ladybird deed, can shield certain assets, like your home, from being claimed by MERP.

The Ladybird Deed in Texas: What is it?

The Ladybird deed, or enhanced life estate deed, is a legal tool recognized in a handful of states, including Texas. This deed allows homeowners to retain control of their property during their lifetime and transfer the property automatically to a designated beneficiary upon death, bypassing probate.

Crucially, the Ladybird deed lets you preserve your right to use, sell, or even mortgage the property while alive. This enhanced control sets the Ladybird deed apart from traditional life estate deeds. It also offers the crucial advantage of potentially avoiding a MERP claim on the property.

How Can a Ladybird Deed Prevent a MERP Claim?

A Ladybird deed works to protect your property from a MERP claim by redefining ownership and the process of transfer upon death. Since the property is transferred automatically to the designated beneficiary upon the owner's death, it technically isn't part of the decedent's probate estate. This means the property is not within reach of the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program, protecting your asset and ensuring your loved ones receive their full inheritance.

It's important to understand that the implementation of a Ladybird deed should be done with the advice and guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney. The language in the deed must be precise to ensure it functions as intended and to avoid potential misunderstandings.

Is a Ladybird Deed Revocable in Texas?

Ladybird Deeds are revocable, and may be revoked by the original Grantor using a document of revocation, duly filed with the County Clerk where the real estate is located. As life changes, you can update your desired outcome accordingly without planning your entire estate.

What about the Homestead Exemption and Ladybird Deeds?

Since the original owner still controls the property during their lifetime, he/she can still maintain their own homestead exemption for their lifetime, which is a significant tax savings.


Navigating Medicaid and estate planning regulations can be a complex process, but understanding the options available is key to protecting your assets for future generations. A Ladybird deed offers a viable method for Texas homeowners to shield their property from MERP claims and ensure the home stays within the family.

However, the correct implementation of a Ladybird deed requires legal expertise to ensure all details are accurately captured. Always seek the guidance of a competent Texas estate planning attorney when considering this or any estate planning strategy.

Remember, Medicaid planning and estate planning go hand-in-hand. By using tools such as the Ladybird deed, you can ensure you're taking all the necessary steps to preserve your legacy in Texas.

Bypassing Medicaid Estate Recovery Program Claims through a Ladybird Deed in Texas

July 31, 2023

August 25, 2023

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