IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF HILDA LOUISE TATUM, DECEASED
Appeal from the County Court at Law Erath County, Texas Trial
Court Cause No. P09416.
consists of: Bailey, C.J., Stretcher, J., and Wright, S.C.J.
appeal involves a dispute among family members regarding the
validity of a warranty deed dated December 17, 1999 (the 1999
Deed). The parties dispute whether certain executing grantors
of the 1999 Deed conveyed their individual interests in the
property at issue even though the 1999 Deed was not executed
and delivered by all of the proposed grantors who owned an
interest in the property being conveyed. Appellants (Larry
Wayne Tatum, Deritha Quay Davis, Herbert Franklin Tatum, and
Betty Kathryn Culbertson) and Appellee (Vicki Lynn Truss)
owned an equal, undivided future interest in the property and
executed the 1999 Deed. Appellee is also the independent
executor of her mother's estate.
capacity as independent executor, Appellee filed a
traditional motion for summary judgment arguing that the 1999
Deed was valid to convey the individual interests of the
executing grantors because they all executed and delivered
the 1999 Deed. In response, Appellants argued that a genuine
issue of material fact existed regarding whether they
executed and delivered the 1999 Deed with the intent of
conveying the executing grantors' individual interests in
the property without the signatures of all the proposed
grantors. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor
issue on appeal, Appellants challenge the trial court's
grant of summary judgment. Because we conclude that a genuine
issue of material fact exists regarding whether the
enforceability of the 1999 Deed was conditioned on the
execution and delivery of the 1999 Deed by all of the
proposed grantors, we sustain Appellants' sole issue and
reverse and remand.
and Hilda Tatum had ten children: Deritha Quay Davis, John
Willie Tatum, Herbert Franklin Tatum, Larry Wayne Tatum,
Betty Kathryn Culbertson, Deborah Dorris Sauer, Georgia
Ellouise Arms, Timothy Dan Tatum, Vicki Lynn Truss, and Ricky
January 18, 1982, George and Hilda executed and delivered to
their children a warranty deed concerning a 134-acre tract of
land, which constituted the family farm (the Property). The
deed reserved a life estate in the Property for George and
Hilda and conveyed the remainder (future) interest to each of
their ten children in equal shares. However, in 1999, John
died, and his interest in the Property transferred to his
widow, Marian Meaders Tatum. At that point, the future
interest in the Property was held by George and Hilda's
surviving nine children and John's widow, Marian
(collectively, the Tatum Children).
John's death, Hilda approached an attorney and asked him
to draft a deed that would convey each of the Tatum
Children's interest in the Property back to George and
Hilda. Shortly thereafter, during a family Christmas
gathering in December 1999, Hilda approached each of the
Tatum Children with the 1999 Deed and asked each of them to
convey their interest back to her and George. The 1999 Deed
listed all ten Tatum Children as the grantors, and it
purported to convey the Property in fee simple back to George
and Hilda; the 1999 Deed made no reference to the undivided
future interests of the grantors.
allege that they and Hilda understood that the 1999 Deed
would not be effective unless it was signed by all of the
Tatum Children. Appellants also allege that they signed and
acknowledged the 1999 Deed based upon this belief. Appellee
and three other Tatum Children also executed the 1999 Deed.
However, Timothy and Marian never signed the 1999 Deed.
Therefore, ultimately, only eight of the ten Tatum Children
signed the 1999 Deed.
died in 2000. In 2001 and 2002, believing the 1999 Deed was
never executed or delivered, Betty, Deborah, Georgia, and
Ricky each executed an affidavit (the Affidavits) to rescind
his or her signature on the 1999 Deed "due to the
failure to obtain full legal consent from all involved
parties." Deborah, Georgia, and Ricky are not parties to
allege that, in 2003, Hilda arranged a meeting with the Tatum
Children to discuss the Tatum Children's transfer of
their interests in the Property. This time, however, Hilda
requested that the Tatum Children consider transfering their
interests among themselves so that only one of them would
hold the entire interest. At that time, Larry was the only
child who expressed an interest in purchasing the other Tatum
Children's remainder interests.
Herbert, Betty, Timothy, and Marian subsequently conveyed
their interests in the Property to Larry. Larry properly
filed and recorded the conveyances in December 2003. Deborah,
Georgia, Vicki, and Ricky also spoke with Larry about selling
their interests, but they were unable to reach an agreement.