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Texas Gift Deed

Gifting Real Property in Texas

Gift deeds transfer title to real property from one party to another with no exchange of consideration, monetary or otherwise. Often used to transfer property between family members or to transfer property as a charitable act or donation, these transfers occur during the grantor's lifetime. It is important that a gift deed contain language that explicitly states that no consideration is expected or required. Ambiguous language, or references to any type of consideration, can make the gift deed contestable in court.

A lawful gift deed includes the grantor's full name and marital status, as well as the grantee's full name, marital status, vesting, and mailing address. Vesting describes how the grantee holds title to the property. Generally, real property is owned in either sole ownership or in co-ownership. For Texas residential property, the primary methods for holding title in co-ownership are tenancy in common, joint tenancy, and community property (TEX. EST CODE 111.001, TEX. FAM CODE 3.003).

As with any conveyance of realty, a gift deed requires a complete legal description of the parcel. Recite the source of title to establish a clear chain of title, and detail any restrictions associated with the property. The document must be signed and acknowledged by the grantor in the presence of two credible witnesses or a certified officer (TEX. PROP CODE 12.001b). Record the completed deed, along with any additional materials, in the clerk's office of the county where the property is located. Contact the same office to verify accepted forms of payment.

In Texas, an unrecorded deed (or instrument) "is binding on a party to the instrument, on the party's heirs, and on a subsequent purchaser who does not pay a valuable consideration or who has notice of the instrument" (TEX. PROP CODE 13.001). This means that, even if a gift deed is unrecorded, it is still a binding document that applies to parties who have signed or acknowledged it.

With gifts of real property, the recipient of the gift (grantee) is not required to declare the amount of the gift as income, but if the property accrues income after the transaction, they are responsible for paying the requisite state and federal income tax [1].

While the amount of the gift does not need to be declared as income, gifts of real property are subject to federal gift taxation. The person or entity making the gift (grantor) is responsible for paying this tax. However, if the donor does not pay the gift tax, the donee will be held liable [1].

In accordance with federal law, individuals are permitted an annual exclusion of $15,000 on gifts. This means that, if a gift is valued below $15,000, a federal gift tax return (Form 709) does not need to be filed. However, if the gift is something that could possibly be disputed by the IRS -- such as real property -- a donor may benefit from filing a Form 709 [2].

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Contact a Texas lawyer with any questions about gift deeds or other issues related to the transfer of real property.

[1] http://msuextension.org/publications/FamilyFinancialManagement/MT199105HR.pdf

[2] https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/frequently-asked-questions-on-gift-taxes

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Texas Gift Deed Form