Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Court Holds that a Husband had no Interest in his Deceased’s Wife’s Real Estate that was Obtained Via a Gift Deed

TexasProperty acquired by a married person in Texas is presumed to be community property, unless it is proven through clear and convincing that the property is separate property. This determination is made at the time of acquisition, or inception of title. To be separate property obtained during the marriage, the property must be acquired through gift, devise, or descent.

In Leland House v. Webb, a husband claimed that tracts of land his deceased wife acquired from her aunt through a deed was a conveyance that fell within the community property presumption. The executor argued that the transfer was not a sale of property, but was a gift. The trial court agreed that the executor beat the presumption, and the husband appealed.

The appellate court stated it was undisputed that the tracts of land was transferred to the wife during her marriage. The husband's argument focused on the fact that the word "gift" never appeared in the deed. The executor conceded that issue, but argued that the consideration for the property was merely "love and affection" that the aunt had for the wife. The court found that "Leland’s interpretation of the deed unreasonable because the deed plainly states that the only consideration for the transfer was love and affection for a family member." Because of this, the aunt's "intent to give the Property to Dianne can be ascertained from the language of the deed." Therefore, the acquisition rebutted the community property presumption, and the husband held no interest in the tracts of land. 

See David Fowler Johnson, Court Holds that a Husband had no Interest in his Deceased’s Wife’s Real Estate that was Obtained Via a Gift Deed, Texas Fiduciary Litigator, January 15, 2020.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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