Objectives of Deed Construction 

According to the Texas Supreme Court, the objective of courts in construing a deed is to “discern and effectuate the [parties’] intent as reflected in the [deed] as a whole.” See Hysaw v. Dawkins, 483 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Tex. 2016) (citing Shriner’s Hosp. for Crippled Children of Tex. v. Stahl, 610 S.W.2d 147, 151 (Tex. 1980)).

In achieving this objective, courts read the instrument as a whole and use a “holistic and harmonizing approach” to determine the parties’ intentions as expressed by all the words the parties used. See id. at 4, 8;Coker v. Coker, 650 S.W.2d 391, 393 (Tex. 1983). “We discern the parties’ intent from the deed’s language in its entirety ‘without reference to matters of mere form, relative position of descriptions, technicalities, or arbitrary rules.’” Stribling v. Millican DPC Partners, LP, 458 S.W.3d 17, 20 (Tex. 2015) (per curiam) (quoting Luckel, 819 S.W.2d at 462). We do not apply “mechanical rules of construction, such as giving priority to certain types of clauses over others or requiring the use of magic words.” Hysaw, 483 S.W.3d at 8; accord Wenske, 521 S.W.3d at 794.

Ultimately, courts strive to adopt the construction that gives meaning to all the words and phrases and that does not render any provision meaningless. Coker, 650 S.W.2d at 393; see also Italian Cowboy, 341 S.W.3d at 333. “The parties’ intent, when ascertainable, prevails over arbitrary rules.” Wenske v. Ealy, 521 S.W.3d 795-96 (Tex. 2017).

Construction of a Deed is Generally Performed by a Judge

“The construction of an unambiguous deed is a question of law for the court.” Wenske, 521 S.W.3d 791, 794 (Tex. 2017) (quoting Luckel v. White, 819 S.W.2d 459, 461 (Tex. 1991)); accord Italian Cowboy Partners, Ltd. v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 341 S.W.3d 323, 333 (Tex. 2011). “[W]e review the trial court’s construction of a deed de novo.” Kardell v. Acker, 492 S.W.3d 837, 842 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2016, no pet.); see Tawes v. Barnes, 340 S.W.3d 419, 425 (Tex. 2011) (reviewing contract construction de novo); Anadarko Petrol. Corp. v. Thompson, 94 S.W.3d 550, 554 (Tex. 2002) (lease construction).