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Cliff Williams

Quitclaim, QuickClaim, and Warranty Deed

April 19, 2017

QuitClaim, Quickclaim, and Warranty Deed

            I just threw in “Quickclaim” because many years ago I didn’t know what the correct term was supposed to be and it’s a reminder to me that humility is paramount.  Today I wonder what other issues I think I have a handle on but in reality I’m still in the “Quickclaim” fog of ignorance.

            A short explanation of the difference between a “quitclaim” deed and a “warranty deed” was expounded upon in a 2005 Texas Supreme Court case:

A warranty deed to land conveys property.  A quitclaim deed conveys the grantor’s right in that property, if any. Geodyne Energy Income Prod. P’ship I-E v. Newton Corp., 161 S.W.3d 482, 486 n.12 (Tex. 2005)

In Enerlex, Inc. v. Amerada Hess, Inc., 302 S.W.3d 351 (Tex.App.—Eastland 2009, no pet.) Enerlex was the victim of 5 unrecorded “dresser-drawer” deeds which were a gift from mom.  Helen Meier (mom) gave the five gift deeds to Lynn Elsner (her daughter) in 1991.  Lynn did not record these deeds until 2006. Therefore, when Helen passed away in 1995, the mineral interests were supposed additions to the residual estate in the probate.  The probate was thought to have vested the mineral interest in mom’s second husband because the daughter had not recorded the gift deeds. 

Second husband remarried and when his probate is concluded the minerals supposedly vest in Grace W. Lousey.  Grace executed a mineral deed conveying to Enerlex all of her “mineral interests in seventy-one sections” in Gaines County, Texas.  Enerlex recorded their mineral deed in 2005 and Lynn Elsner recorded her 1991 gift deeds in 2006.

The above paragraph provides a good opportunity to remind persons to record instruments.  Not only should we record gift deeds but we should also remind our loved ones that lending institutions regularly send us unrecorded “Release of Lien” instruments which need to be recorded as soon as possible. But, I digress.

There were specific differences in the gift deed from Helen and the Mineral Deed from Grace.  The differences included the fact that the gift deeds were specific in their grant including fractional interest in specific tracts of property while the mineral deeds to Enerlex did not contain similar fractional reference nor any warranty or covenants for title (See Geodyne Energy, 161 S.W.3d at 486-87).  The controlling factor is whether Grace asserted that she owned the minerals under the tracts she conveyed and then undertook to convey those interests. Am. Republics Corp. v. Houston Oil Co. of Texas, 173 F.2d 728, 734 (5th Cir. 1949). Thus, the Texas Supreme Court found that Grace’s deed was a quitclaim deed.  This stripped the bona fide purchaser (“BFP”) status from Enerlex and vested title in Lynn Elsner.  A BFP defense, in short, is an affirmative defense in a title dispute. To receive the BFP protection, the buyer must acquire the property in good faith, for consideration, without notice of any third-party claim and receive the property through a deed conveying property and not through a document conveying interest. (BFP Link for additional information.)

 

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