Donato Mortis Causa

June 24, 2015 10:53 am Published by

In the recent case of King v. The Chiltern Dogs Rescue [2015] EWCA Civ 581 the Court of Appeal confirmed the necessary ingredients of Donato Mortis Causa.

Donato Mortis Causa applies to a gift made in contemplation of death. It is not a lifetime gift, because it only operates on death and is not a testamentary gift, as it operates irrespective of a Will.  The law in this area was widened by the case of Vallee v. Birchwood [2015] EWHC 1449 [Ch].  However the King case stated that the Vallee case had been  wrongly decided and re-stated the appropriate criteria.  These can be summarised as follows:-

  1. The donor must be contemplating death in the near future for a specific reason;
  2. The gift must be conditional on that contemplated death; and until then may be revoked at will and will be revoked if a Donor does not die soon enough;
  3. The Donor must part with dominion over the subject matter of the gift, or the documents evidencing in title;

Strict proof of compliance with these three requirements was needed and the evidence of them must be unequivocal.

Despite the law being clarified, it is always safest to make a Will, rather than leave events to chance and legal mechanisms such as Donato Mortis Causa.

If you have a dispute regarding a Will or Gift, please contact the writer, Graham Mead (Partner), on 01473 343915.  If you wish to make a Will to seek to ensure that your property is left as you would like, please contact Nicola Weldon (Partner) on 01473 343921.

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This post was written by Graham