Real Property

Real estate law covers a wide range of legal matters involving residential property, commercial property, investment property, and mineral property. Whether you are planning to buy or sell a house, lease or purchase commercial property for your business, sell or lease oil and gas interests, or get into another type of property transaction, you should consult with a real estate lawyer.

Deeds

A deed is a very common mechanism for transferring property interests from one party to another. Texas law allows for many types of deeds, including warranty deeds, special warranty deeds, deeds without warranty, deeds in lieu of foreclosure, deeds incident to divorce, executor's deeds, and correction deeds.

You may have also heard of "quitclaim deeds." A quitclaim is not exactly a deed, though, despite the name. It is basically a document conveying or acknowledging that the "grantor" has no rights or claims to the property at issue.

In a real estate transaction, it is important to use the particular type of deed appropriate for the situation. Each type of deed conveys different rights, obligations, and even restrictions on the usage of the property at issue.

Co-Ownership of Real Property

In Texas, as in many states, multiple people can be co-owners of the same property, regardless of whether they are married to each other or not. Depending on the type of co-ownership, though, there are different results when it comes to inheritance, in particular. The basic types of co-ownership are tenancy-in-common and joint tenancy with rights of survivor-ship.

Under Texas law, co-owners who are not spouses are presumed to be tenants-in-common. Tenants-in-common will generally have the same qualitative rights to the property (such as rights of possession and access) though they may have different-sized shares in the property. When one of the owners dies, his or her share does not pass to the surviving owner, as it would in a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. It passes to the decedent's heirs or beneficiaries.

Co-owners who are spouses are not automatically considered to be joint tenants with rights of survivorship either. Rights of survivorship must be spelled out in the deed. A true joint tenancy with rights of survivorship means that the survivor will inherit the property without the property passing through probate. But unless the deed specifically states that the property is owned as a joint tenancy, the decedent's will, or in a case where the decedent did not have a will, Texas estates law will control who inherits the property.

Joint tenancies and tenancies-in-common can be created upon the acquisition of the property or can be created later by transfer of a share of the property to a co-owner. The reasons for doing this can vary from wanting someone to help take care of the property to a desire to avoid probate (not always possible or even advisable) to a myriad other motivations.

A very important point to remember is that adding another owner to your property is not just as simple as adding that person to your deed. There are other considerations including: whether the lender on the mortgage (if there is one) will consent to the transfer; whether there will be capital gains and/or gift tax consequences to the transfer; whether the transfer will render the grantor ineligible for Medicaid benefits (if that is a concern); whether homestead benefits and exemptions will be forfeited; and more. Before concluding that adding someone else to the deed is the only option for you, make sure you walk through all of the potential consequences with your real estate attorney

Additional Real Estate Legal Services

This firm handles several real property matters in addition to those described above, including:

  • Adverse possession claims
  • Boundary disputes
  • Commercial leases
  • Deeds incident to divorce
  • Drafting and review of hunting and grazing leases
  • Due diligence
  • Easement disputes
  • Entity formation for investment property
  • Executor's deeds
  • Landlord/tenant disputes
  • Lease/Purchase agreements
  • Living trusts
  • Land trusts
  • Purchase of commercial property
  • Purchase of residential property
  • Removal of liens
  • Sale of commercial property
  • Sale of residential property

Mineral Rights

In the realm of real estate law, "mineral rights" can refer to many different types of minerals but are most often thought of in the context of oil and natural gas interests. For families who have lived for many generations in Texas, it is not uncommon for people to inherit rights to land with oil and/or gas. These rights can be very valuable especially if the oil and gas is still producing.

This firm handles issues involving the mineral rights of landowners, whether the minerals are part of the owner's residence or located elsewhere. Some examples of the types of oil and gas matters we handle include:

  • Affidavits of heirship for mineral interests
  • Division orders
  • Estates involving mineral rights
  • Mineral deeds
  • Review of oil and gas leases
  • Sale of mineral interests
  • Severance of minerals from surface
  • Surface rights disputes with oil and gas lessors