Phillips v. Ivy, 160 S.W.3d 91 (Tex. App.—Waco 2004, pet. denied).


Testator’s will left a life estate in his real property to Wife with remainder to Daughter. The life estate included all mineral interests such as rents, profits, royalties, and bonuses. Wife executed a disclaimer of all interests under this provision other than the life estate. Although the disclaimer seemed unnecessary because Wife was only granted a life estate, her tax attorney explained that the disclaimer was to make doubly sure the remainder interest would not be included in Wife’s estate.

Daughter claimed that Wife’s disclaimer caused her to retain only a conventional life estate in the property and that she waived her rights to the enhancements granted in the will such as the mineral rents, profits, royalties, and bonuses. Both the trial and appellate courts rejected Daughter’s claims.

The court explained that Testator specifically granted Wife more than a conventional life estate. Instead, he granted a life estate enhanced by the mineral interests. The court then stated that there was no reason to disagree with the trial judge’s conclusion that the disclaimer did not waive Wife’s interests in the enhanced life estate features.

Note: The dissenting opinion argued that the disclaimer’s reference that only a “life estate” was retained should be interpreted as the retention of only a conventional life estate. Thus, the dissent believed that Wife waived her right to the mineral enhancements.

Moral: To avoid this type of litigation, a disclaimer should precisely state the interests being disclaimed and retained by tracking the language of the will.