Inter Vivos Gifts

Panhandle Baptist Foundation, Inc. v. Clodfelter, 54 S.W.3d 66 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2001, no pet.).


Testator executed a deed which stated that it was being filed to replace an earlier deed which had been lost in which he gave one-half of his ranch to Wife. However, the deed later recited that it was transferring all of the ranch to Wife. Testator’s will gave a life estate in the ranch to Wife with remainder to Beneficiaries. The trial court determined that Wife owned the entire ranch under the deed. The court found that the deed was not ambiguous and thus refused to consider extrinsic evidence regarding the execution of the deed.

The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Although the deed was signed, acknowledged, and recorded raising presumptions of delivery and that Wife accepted the deed of the entire ranch, there was considerable evidence that Wife only thought of herself as owner of one-half. For example, both Testator and Wife entered into an agreement resolving a boundary dispute.

Moral: Deeds should be carefully examined to be sure they convey the interest the grantor intends.