Deathbed gifts: A focus on timing
We have written a number of articles about deathbed gifts in recent months as it is an interesting topic and not as uncommon as you may think. This is a type of legal gift which can be made without adhering to the strict formalities required for gifts, such as those left in wills.
A deathbed gift, which was also known as ‘donatio mortis causa’ or DMC, must fit the below criteria to be binding:
1. Be made by a person in contemplation of their impending death
2. Be made to take effect on the death of the donor
3. Be parted with, or delivered to, the intended recipient in some way (e.g. handed deeds or keys)
The time aspect, point 2, is particularly important as a judge recently found that such an alleged gift could not be said to have been made because the death did not occur until six months after the maker suffered a heart attack. This meant the legal validity of the deathbed gift no longer existed.
It is worth pointing out that in this particular case, nearly 98% of the value of the estate was made up of the value of her home, which allegedly was the subject of the deathbed gift.
If any of this sounds familiar you should seek expert advice. We run DMC!