Romero v. Garcia

1976-NMSC-002, 89 N.M. 1, 546 P.2d 66

 

RULE:

 The deed is not void for want of proper description if, with the deed and with extrinsic evidence on the ground, a surveyor can ascertain the boundaries. The purpose of a description of the land, which is the subject matter of a deed of conveyance, is to identify such subject matter; and it may be laid down as a broad general principle that a deed will not be declared void for uncertainty in description if it is possible by any reasonable rules of construction to ascertain from the description, aided by extrinsic evidence, which property is intended to be conveyed. It is sufficient if the description in the deed or conveyance furnishes a means of identification of the land or by which the property conveyed can be located. So, if a surveyor with the deed before him can, with the aid of extrinsic evidence if necessary, locate the land and establish its boundaries, the description therein is sufficient.

FACTS:

Plaintiff-appellee Ida Romero, formerly Garcia, filed suit to quiet title against defendants-appellants Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Garcia, who are her former father-in-law and mother-in-law. The suit to quiet title was based upon adverse possession for more than ten years under color of title and payment of taxes. From judgment for the plaintiff, defendants appealed. The court affirmed the judgment challenged by the former parents-in-law and granted for the former daughter-in-law's lawsuit to quiet title based on adverse possession for over 10 years under color of title and the payment of taxes.

 

ISSUE:

Can an unsigned deed with an inexact description of property create sufficient color of title for an adverse possession claim?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court affirmed the contested judgment. The court found that the void deed had sufficient color of title. Moreover, the court found that the deed's description was adequate for adverse possession because it sufficiently described the piece of property. The court also found that the deed was not void for lacking a proper description because the surveyor could determine the boundaries from the deed and with evidence on the ground. The findings of fact from the trial court were supported by substantial evidence. Furthermore, the court found that the subsequent acts of the parties in building a house and pointing to the land were adequate to establish the boundaries. Lastly, the court found that the former daughter-in-law paid the taxes in each case before a tax deed was issued to the state. The court held that the former daughter-in-law substantially complied with the requirement of continuous payment of taxes for adverse possession pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 2l3-1-22 (1953 & Supp.1975).

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