The changing of a remainderman in Florida can be complex and tricky business, however, here are a few tips that provides for a smoother transition from remainderman to remainderman as needed throughout the lifetime of the grantor and from deed to deed.
Can a remainderman be changed?
Yes, in Florida a remainderman can be changed, however, there are certain steps that should be taken to do so with ease. For example, if Jane designates her children as remaindermen on the deed of her property then that can be changed or altered should Jane ever become estranged or fall out with any of her children. The best way for Jane to do this is would be by recording a lady bird deed that specifically states that the life tenant, Jane herself, retains the right to divest or change remainderman, her children in this example. That way if a subsequent deed is recorded changing the remainderman either by adding others, due to the birth of another child, or removing one, due to the death of a child, there is no difficult question as to whether it is allowed or not, as the first deed states as much. However, if the life estate deed does not specifically mention such a right to alter or change the remainderman on the deed then the transfer or altering of such deeds may see pushback from insurance companies.
Well, what is a Lady Bird Deed?
In our example, Jane may not know what a lady bird deed is. It is another name for an enhanced life estate deed, which allows for a property to pass outside of probate, after the death of the original owner, Jane. The reason that such language that specifies the alteration of remainderman on a lady bird deed is necessary is to ensure that Jane, as the original owner, can alter how exactly the property is to be transferred upon her death should the circumstances of her heirs or the beneficiaries of the property change. Imagine Jane has two children, and she establishes both of them as remaindermen on a deed with no language as to allow her to alter those remaindermen. In this case, should one of Jane’s children predate her own death then their 50% interest in the property will go to the child’s death, rather than to the surviving child. However, if Jane took such action as to name her two children as remaindermen in a lady bird deed with the requisite language to allow her to alter the deed then she would be able to alter the deed removing the deceased child and allowing the surviving child to be the only remainderman with 100% interest in the property upon Jane’s death.
Why would someone want to alter or remove a remainderman?
It may seem odd to want to remove a deceased child, as in the example of Jane, as a remainderman on the deed to a property, but having the requisite language that allows for such alterations to a deed is more about having the ability to take such actions as needed given changing life circumstances, and not so much about the actual doing of removing a remainderman. Having the flexibility to change a remainderman during the life of the life estate tenant provides the necessary protection to allow a person to alter such deeding of property as may be needed in life. For example, if John, in unfortunate circumstances is not survived by any heirs he can then alter the deed to remove remainderman that no longer survive him to bequeath the property to someone who may actually take advantage of the property and put it to its best use, as is the purpose of property law in Florida and other states.