Donato Mortis Causa
In the recent case of King v. The Chiltern Dogs Rescue  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  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:-
- The donor must be contemplating death in the near future for a specific reason;
- 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;
- 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.