Jackson Estate v. Jackson

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Jackson Estate v. Jackson, Case No. 20000486-CA, Filed July 12, 2001 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS

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In the matter of the estate of
Lynn Franklin Averett Jackson,
Decedent,

v.

Maria Jackson,
Appellant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION
(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 20000486-CA

F I L E D
July 12, 2001 2001 UT App 223 -----

Fourth District, Provo Department
The Honorable James R. Taylor

Attorneys:
Michael K. Black, Springville, for Appellant
Gary H. Weight, Provo, for Decedent -----

Before Judges Jackson, Davis, and Thorne.

JACKSON, Associate Presiding Judge:

Appellant Maria Jackson (Jackson) appeals the trial court's judgment ruling that her husband, Lynn F. Jackson, aka Lynn Franklin Averett Jackson (Decedent), had effectively delivered a deed during his lifetime that conveyed the family home to himself and his daughters, Connie Rowan (Rowan) and Linda Thomas (Thomas), as tenants in common.

The factual findings of the trial court are not disputed. The trial court concluded that delivery occurred when Decedent executed the warranty deed to the property, gave copies of that deed to his daughters, and later gave Thomas a key to the safe deposit box, which contained the original deed. What acts constitute legal delivery of a deed is a legal question. See 23 Am. Jur. 2d Deeds § 130 (1983). "In reviewing the trial court's conclusions of law, we accord them no particular deference but review them for correctness." Falula Farms, Inc. v. Ludlow, 866 P.2d 569, 571 (Utah Ct. App. 1993).

Jackson contends that Decedent did not complete delivery of the deed to his daughter(s). Thus, she argues, the deed did not transfer title because it did not pass beyond the control of Decedent. We agree. Thomas and Rowan argue that "[b]y entrusting to Linda Thomas a key to the safety deposit box where the deed was kept, decedent effectively delivered the deed to [Thomas and Rowan], thus creating an inter-vivos transfer." Utah law does not support this proposition.

"Delivery of a deed requires that the grantor either relinquish physical control of the deed or have a present intent to permanently divest himself of title to the property." Bennion v. Hansen, 699 P.2d 757, 759 (Utah 1985) (emphasis added); see also Wiggill v. Cheney, 597 P.2d 1351, 1352 (Utah 1979) ("[I]n order for a delivery effectively to transfer title, the grantor must part with possession of the deed or the right to retain it." (footnote omitted)).

Here, Decedent executed a warranty deed to the property and gave copies of that deed to his daughters. Later, Decedent gave to Thomas a copy of the key to his safe deposit box, which contained the original deed. According to Thomas, Decedent explained why he gave her the key: "I lose a lot of keys, so here's a copy." While Decedent gave Thomas access to the safe deposit box, he did not "relinquish physical control of the deed" or manifest "a present intent to permanently divest himself of title to the property." Bennion, 699 P.2d at 759. Thus, we cannot say these acts constituted delivery of the deed.(1).

Accordingly, we reverse and remand for such further proceedings as may be necessary.
 
 

______________________________
Norman H. Jackson,
Associate Presiding Judge -----

WE CONCUR:
 
 

______________________________
James Z. Davis, Judge
 
 

______________________________
William A. Thorne, Judge

1. This reasoning leads us to conclude that giving copies of the deed likewise has no legal effect. A copy of the deed is not the deed. Thus, giving his daughters a copy of the deed did not "relinquish [Decedent's] physical control of the deed" or manifest "a present intent to permanently divest himself of title to the property." Bennion v. Hansen, 699 P.2d 757, 759 (Utah 1985).