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Salter v. Hamiter

Supreme Court of Alabama
887 So. 2d 230 (2004)


Frank Salter (defendant) and Mary Ellen Knowles routinely conducted business together. In 1967, Knowles deeded three parcels of property to Salter. Knowles told her attorney that she intended the deeds to transfer title to Salter. Knowles also asked if Salter could legally wait until after Knowles died to record the deeds. The attorney confirmed the deeds would transfer title to Salter as long as the deeds were legally delivered to Salter. A few months later, Knowles asked her attorney to witness the delivery of the deeds. In the attorney’s presence, Knowles physically handed the deeds to Salter. Salter retained physical possession of the deeds. However, Salter did not record the deeds because Knowles had asked Salter to wait until after Knowles died. In case Salter died first, Salter also added a provision to his will transferring the property back to Knowles. Knowles remained the recorded owner, occasionally paid property taxes, and engaged in timber and mineral business on the properties. Knowles even purportedly sold some parcels covered by the deeds. Knowles died in May 2000, and Salter then recorded the deeds. In October 2000, the executors of the Knowles estate, Harold Hamiter and Gillis Ralls (plaintiffs), sued to declare the deeds void for several reasons, including insufficient delivery. The trial court found for the plaintiffs, and Salter appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Lyons, J.)

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