Is a verbal agreement regarding a land transaction binding?

I signed over some property to a relative while I was living out of state with the agreement that if/when I moved back, it would be given back to me. I took no compensation for this property . I have since moved back to the area and now it looks as if I will not be getting this property back. I have an email that details several options in regards to the property transfer, but I ultimately agreed to just sign it over for “safe keeping”. Is there a way to get my property back or to force it into a some sort of trust for my kids?

Asked on March 31, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Oh boy.  The general rule is that agreement is to transfer real property must be in writing to be valid.  This is known as the Statute of Frauds. It also must be signed by the "party to be charged."   The problem with e-mails is obviously they are not a signed instrument of some sort but also you really have no idea who is writing them.  You can not prove anything with them.  This is the time that you need to go and seek help from a VERY GOOD real estate attorney in your area to see what can be done.  Bring with you all the documents and let him or her look at them.  Maybe there is a way to set the transfer aside given the lack of consideration for the transfer or a way to categorize the transfer as maybe a gift subjecting it to a gift tax which could be substantial.  Maybe your relative would rather give it back then.  Good luck.  

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