Wright v. Jones, No. 10-21-00297-CV, 2023 WL 4763184 (Tex. App.—Waco July 26, 2023, no pet. h.).


Lady Bird Deeds

Husband and Wife executed a Lady Bird deed reserving a life estate and the power to revoke. Husband died. Wife executed a valid durable power of attorney. Later, Wife and her agent revoked the deed in two documents, one they both signed and one signed by only the agent. When Grantee of the deed refused to leave the premises, they filed a trespass cause of action against Grantee. The trial court decided that Wife owned the entire premises to the exclusion of the grantee.


The appellate court studied the deed and determined that each spouse reserved a life estate in his or community one-half of the property subject to the deed. Thus, when Husband died, his life estate ended and his interest in one-half of the property immediately vested in Grantee. The deed could have provided that Husband’s interest would pass to Wife upon his death but it did not. Instead, Husband’s one-half interest belongs to Grantee and Wife’s revocation of the deed only impacted her one-half interest. Accordingly, Wife and Grantee now own the property as tenants in common and Grantee did not trespass because each cotenant has the right to possess the property.


Moral:  The share owned by a co-grantor of a Lady Bird deed passes to the grantee upon the co-grantor’s death and is not subject to revocation by a surviving co-grantor unless the deed expressly provides otherwise.