Brief Fact Summary.
Plaintiffs sued, alleging that they were the rightful owners of the property in question. The trial court ruled in favor of Defendant. Plaintiffs appealed.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
If a grantor actually delivers a deed to a third person and, without reserving a right to recall it, instructs the third party to deliver it to the grantee upon the grantor’s death, delivery is complete.
In 1992, Juanita Carr executed a will naming Ignacio and Jose Vasquez(Plaintiffs) her sole heirs. In 1993, however, Juanita executed a deed granting the property in question to Brigido Vasquez (Defendant). Juanita gave the deed to her attorney, Michael George, with instructions to keep the deed a secret and, upon her death, to record it and deliver it to Defendant. Upon Juanita’s death, however, the executor of the will deeded the property to Plaintiffs. The trial court held the deed to be delivered to Defendant in 1993 when she gave it to her attorney. Plaintiffs appealed.
Whether the delivery of a signed deed to one's attorney with instructions to deliver said deed to the grantee upon the grantor's death constitutes adequate delivery, thus rendering the grantee the rightful owner of the subject property.
Yes. The trial court’s ruling is affirmed. If a grantor actually delivers a deed to a third person and, without reserving a right to recall it, instructs the third party to deliver it to the grantee upon the grantor’s death, delivery is complete.
The question of delivery of the deed is controlled by the intent of the grantor, and it is determined by examining all the facts and circumstances preceding, attending, and following the execution of the instrument.View Full Point of Law
A deed must be legally delivered for a transfer to be valid.In doing so, the grantor reserves for herself the use, possession, and enjoyment of the property during his or her lifetime. The question is whether the grantor intended to surrender all control over the instrument at the time it was delivered to the third party. Here, Juanita delivered the deed to her attorney with instructions to keep it a secret, record it upon her death, and then deliver it to Defendant. Juanita never mentioned anything about being able to recall the deed or any other contingency. Therefore, delivery was complete. Although George would have been bound to return the deed if asked, i.e., she retained the power to reclaim the deed, none of the evidence suggests that Juanita did not intend to relinquish control of the deed.