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Receiving Gifts in Contemplation of Someone's Death

Prior to someone’s death they may gift you with an item of their Estate without anything formal being specified or written down – so where do you stand in a situation like this?

Do you have to give the gift back or are you entitled to keep it?
Donatio Mortis Causa (DMC) is a gift made in contemplation of and conditional upon someone’s death.  The gift is made in the lifetime of the donor but operates fully on death.
So what are the requirements?
1. The gift must be made in contemplation of death – it does not matter if the donor made a gift in contemplation of death from a specific cause but dies from a different cause the gift is still valid.
2. Delivery – there must be delivery from the donor to the donee (or his agent) of the subject matter of the gift and this requires both intention and an act on the part of the donor.  For chattels, physical delivery is sufficient nevertheless if the donor grants the donee dominion or control over the gift this will also amount to delivery.
Where the subject matter is land or intangible property the prerequisite of a valid DMC is that the donor delivered the essential evidence of title to the donee or gave the donee control over the title.
3. The gift must be made conditional on death – the donor must intend the gift to take effect only in the event of his death.  If the donor recovers the property reverts back to him.  The donor may revoke the gift at anytime during the lifetime by retaking possession or control of the property or by giving the donee notice of revocation.  The donor is unable to revoke a gift by Will.
Once the donor dies the donee acquires complete title.  Death converts the conditional title to unconditional.   If you feel you may have a valid DMC and wish to discuss this matter further please contact one of our specialist Lawyers at Wilson Browne Solicitors.
For further information, please call 0800 0880 6004