D was about to undergo an operation which might prove fatal. D gave a power of attorney to R (her son). She told R that she wanted him to have certain shares and monies in her bank account if she died. R notified the bank, which responded that it was now holding the shares and monies on his behalf. D died during the operation.
Held: D had made a valid donatio mortis causa. Parting with dominion as the crux of the case. D’s conduct amounted to parting with dominion.
Farwell J set out the conditions to be met to establish a claim of donatio mortis causa: ‘The conditions which are essential to a donatio mortis causa are, firstly, a clear intention to give, but to give only if the donor dies, whereas if the donor does not die then the gift is not to take effect and the donor is to have back the subject-matter of the gift. Secondly, the gift must be made in contemplation of death, by which is meant not the possibility of death at some time or other, but death within the near future, what may be called death for some reason believed to be impending. Thirdly, the donor must part with dominion over the subject-matter of the donatio”
 1 Ch 423, (1937) 3 All ER 33
England and Wales
Cited – King v The Chiltern Dog Rescue and Another CA 9-Jun-2015
This is an appeal by charities who are entitled to inherit under a will against a decision that (a) the deceased transferred her house to her nephew by a donatio mortis causa, alternatively (b) the nephew is entitled to recover 75,000 pounds against . .
Cited – King v Dubrey and Others ChD 1-Jul-2014
The claimant said that before her death, the now deceased testator had handed the deeds of the house to him saying that she was giving the house to him. He said it was a donatio mortis causa gift. . .
Cited – Sen v Headley CA 28-Feb-1991
D, who was in hospital and near death, said to R (his former partner): ‘The house is yours, Margaret. You have the keys. They are in your bag. The deeds are in the steel box.’ After D’s death R discovered that D had put had put into her bag the only . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Wills and Probate
Updated: 25 November 2021; Ref: scu.548014