Gordon R. McKenzie


A PAPERLESS WILL - By Gordon R. MacKenzie

The evening before he passed away, the 80 year old and ailing Zachariuc, told his friend, Chevrier, he had no will but said, "I give what I have to you, you are my only friend." He told Chevrier where he had money hidden under the house and gave Chevrier a house key (Re: Zachariuc).

It may not be necessary to make a will to transfer personal belongings to a beneficiary. The beneficiary must prove that the gift was made in contemplation of death, there was a delivery of the property and the deceased intended to get the property back if they did not pass away. This is called donatio mortis causa or a gift made in contemplation of death.

At the trial, Chevrier proved that Zachariuc was contemplating his death, although he was not expecting to pass away. The money was delivered by telling where it was hidden and giving the house key. This was verified by the police officer and public trustee official who found the money with Chevrier. The judge decided Zachariuc intended to recover the property if he did not die, since he asked Chevrier to return the next day to witness "the paper".

In the result, Chevrier got to keep the $16,280.00 hidden under the house, but he did not get to keep over $3,000.00 hidden elsewhere in the house, nor the house. Donatio mortis causa does not apply to real estate and there was no delivery of the other money. These went to the Public Trustee.

Ultimately, your best bet is to prepare a valid will.

This article is presented as general information only and is not to be relied on as legal advice. You should contact your lawyer to see how the law applies to your circumstances before any action is taken.

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