What is Donatio Mortis Causa?

Legal Definition
"DDeathbed gift". Gift causa mortis ; "The donor, contemplating imminent death, declares words of present gifting and delivers the gift to the donee or someone who clearly takes possession on behalf of the donee. The gift becomes effective at death but remains revocable until that time."
Legal Definition
Contracts, legacies. A gift in prospect of death. When a person in sickness, apprehend ing his dissolution near, delivers, or causes to be delivered to another, the possession of any personal goods, to keep as his own, in case of the donor's decease. 2 Bl. Com. 514 see Civ. Code of Lou. art. 1455.

2. The civil law defines it to be a gift under apprehension of death; as, when any thing is given upon condition that if the donor dies, the donee shall possess it absolutely, or return it if the donor should survive, or should repent of having made the gift, or if the donee should die before the donor. 1 Miles' Rep. 109-117.

3. Donations mortis causa, are now reduced, as far as possible, to the similitude of legacies. Inst. t. 7, De Donationibus. See 2 Ves. jr. 119; Smith v. Casen, mentioned by the reporter at the end of Drury v. Smith, 1 P. Wms. 406; 2 Ves. sen. 434; 3 Binn. 866.

4. With respect to the nature of a donatio mortis causa, this kind of gift so far resembles a legacy, that it is ambulatory and incomplete during the donor's life; it is, therefore, revocable by him; 7 Taunt. 231; 3 Binn. 366 and subject to his debts upon a deficiency of assets. 1 P. Wms. 405. But in the following particulars it differs from a legacy: it does riot fall within an administration, nor require any act in the executors to perfect a title in the donee. Rop. Leg. 26.

5. The following circumstances are required to constitute a good donatio mortis causa. 1st. That the thing given be personal property; .3 Binn. 370 a bond; 3 Binn. 370; 3 Madd. R. 184; bank notes; 2 Bro. C. C. 612; and a check offered for payment during the life of the donor, will be so considered. 4 Bro. C. C. 286.

6. - 2d. That the gift be made by the donor in peril of death, and to take effect only in case the giver die. 3 Binn. 370 4 Burn's Ecc. Law, 110.

7. - 3d. That there be an actual delivery of the subject to, or for the donee, in cases where such delivery can be made. 3 Binn. 370; 2 Ves. jr. 120. See 9 Ves. 1 , 7 Taunt. 224. But such delivery can be made to a third person for the use of the donee. 3 Binn. 370:

8. It is an unsettled question whether such kind of gift appearing in writing, without delivery of the subject, can be supported. 2 Ves. jr. 120. By the Roman and civil law, a gift mortis causa might be made in writing. Dig. lib. 39, t. 6, 1. 28 2 Ves. sen. 440 1 Ves. sen. 314.

9. In Louisiana, no disposition mortis causa, otherwise than by last will and testament, is allowed. Civ. Code, art. 1563. See, in general, 1 Fonb. Tr. Eq. 288, n. (p); Coop. Just. 474, 492; Civ. Code of Lo. B. 3, 2, c. 1 and 6. Vin. Abr. Executors, Z 4; Bac. Abr. Legacies, A; Supp. to Ves. jr. vol. 1, p. 143, 170; vol. 2, 97. 215; Rop. Leg: oh. 1; Swinb. pt. 1, s. 7 1 Miles, 109. &c.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
A gift made by a person in sickness, who, apprehending his dissolution near, delivers, or causes to be delivered, to another the possession of any personal goods, to keep as his own in case of the donor's decease. 2 Bl. Comm. 514. The civil law defines it to be a gift under apprehension of death; as when anything is given upon condition that, if the donor dies, the donee shall possess it absolutely, or return it if the donor should survive or should repent of having made the gift, or if the donee should die before the donor. Adams v. Nicholas, 1 Miles (Pat) 109-117. A gift in view of death is one which is made in contemplation, fear, or peril of death, and with intent that it shall tfke effect only in case of the death of the giver. Civ. Code Cal. ยง ll49. A donation mortis causa (in prospect of death) is an act to take effect when the donor shall no longer exist, by which he disposes of the whole or a part of his property, and which is irrevocable. Civ. Code La. art. 1469.
-- Black's Law Dictionary