Property gifts in contemplation of death: Donatio mortis causa – Hardwicke Chambers

Posted October 15th, 2014 in animals, charities, gifts, news, wills by sally

‘As the opening comments of Charles Hollander QC in his judgment in King v Dubrey [2014] EWHC 2083, make clear, a donatio mortis causa (DMC) takes effect as a historic and anomalous exception to the requirements of the Wills Act. It involves… a present gift which takes effect in the future and remains conditional until the donor dies. On death it becomes absolute. It has previously been described as being of “an amphibious nature, being a gift which is neither entirely inter vivos nor testamentary.” The task for the Court is to distinguish between a genuine DMC and an attempt to make a testamentary gift other than in accordance with the Wills Act. The test has, for over one hundred and fifty years, been a high one –

“…no case of this description ought to prevail unless it is supported by evidence of the clearest and most unequivocal character.”’

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Hardwicke Chambers, 25th September 2014