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Law School Case Brief

Vasquez v. Vasquez - 973 S.W.2d 330 (Tex. App. 1998)

Rule:

When a grantor delivers a deed to a third person without a reservation of a right to recall it, and instructs the third person to deliver it to the grantee on the grantor's death, he thereby makes an effective delivery as a matter of law.

Facts:

Juanita Vasquez Carr, the unquestioned owner of the property at issue, executed a will naming Ignacio Vasquez as her independent executor, and Ignacio and Jose Vasquez, appellants, as sole beneficiaries. Thereafter, Juanita Vasquez Carr executed a quitclaim deed granting the same property to Brigido Vasquez, appellee. Juanita left the quitclaim deed in the custody of her attorney with the instructions to keep the existence of the deed a secret, to keep it in his custody, and to file and deliver the deed to the named grantee after Juanita’s death. Juanita continued with the uninterrupted possession, use, and benefit of the subject property until her death. Upon her death, Juanita’s attorney mailed the quitclaim deed to the appropriate county clerk for filing. Meanwhile, Juanita’s last will and testament was filed and admitted to probate. The case was submitted to the trial court, which ruled appellee as the rightful owner of the subject property. According to the trial court, when Juanita delivered the quitclaim deed to her attorney with instructions to file the said deed and deliver it to appellee upon Juanita’s deed, she made an effective delivery as a matter of law. Appellants challenged the decision of the trial court, arguing that there was no effective delivery of the deed, and as such, the deed was ineffective to pass title to the property to the appellee.

Issue:

Did the delivery of a signed deed to one’s attorney with the instructions to deliver said deed to the grantee upon the grantor’s death constitute adequate delivery, thus rendering the grantee the rightful owner of the subject property?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The appellate court found that Juanita retained possession of the subject property until her death. However, the court concluded that possession was not determinative. The court held that Juanita’s intent was controlling. The evidence in the record of Juanita’s intent to deliver the deed showed that she executed the deed and handed it over to her attorney with specific instructions to deliver the deed to appellee when Juanita died. Juanita did not reserve a right to recall the deed. The court concluded that because Juanita delivered the deed to a third person without a reservation of a right to recall it and instructed the third person to deliver it to appellee on Juanita’s death, Juanita thereby made an effective delivery as a matter of law. According to the court, where the grantor delivered a deed to a third person with the intent to part with all control, the legal effect of the transaction was tantamount to a delivery of the deed to the grantee, conveying him the fee while reserving for the grantor the use and enjoyment of the land during her natural life.

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