Matter of Estate of Abraham, 583 S.W.3d 890 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2019, pet. filed).

Estate Administration

Estate Property

Four months after Decedent’s death, his son who is not a beneficiary of the will, filed a deed which purported to transfer a parcel of community property from Decedent to him. Decedent signed the deed but it was not notarized until after Decedent’s death. Two years later, Decedent’s surviving spouse and sole beneficiary deeded her interest in this property to the son. Accordingly, the son claimed that he was now the owner of the land and the administrator sought to void the deed. The probate court declared that the Decedent’s deed was “void, invalid, and of no legal effect.” The son appealed.


The appellate court affirmed. Son claimed that the late notarization would not make the deed invalid as notarization is not a deed requirement under Property Code § 5.021. Instead, notarization is merely a precondition to recording the deed in the public records under Property Code § 12.001. The court determined that it did not need to address this issue because the deed was not signed by Decedent’s wife and thus could not convey the property. “[A]bsent a power of attorney or agreement, one spouse may not convey community property to a third party, so as to effectuate a partition by creating a tenancy-in-common between the remaining spouse and the third party.” Id. at 896. In addition, as explained in the companion case of Matter of Estate of Abraham, 583 S.W.3d 374 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2019, pet. filed), the alleged transfer of the wife’s interest to the son was ineffective.


Moral:  A conveyance of community real property requires the signatures of both spouses.