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On donating properties

(First of two parts)

I’ve always said to my men friends, ‘[I]f you really care for me, darling, you will give me territory,’” mused singer and activist Eartha Kitt. “Give me land, give me land.”

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While Valentine’s Day often draws a deluge of balloons, confectionery, flowers, greeting cards, songs and stuffed toys, no one is prohibited from taking a cue from Kitt and gifting his (or her) beloved with the title to his properties on that day. Or any other day, for that matter.

In order that properties may be validly donated, however, certain legal concepts and requirements must first be reckoned with.

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The law defines a donation as an act of liberality wherein a person, the donor, disposes gratuitously of, among others, property in favor of another, the donee, who accepts it.

A donation exists even when the donor gives to the donee the property on account of the latter’s merits or of the services rendered by him, provided they do not constitute a demandable debt; or the gift imposes upon the donee a burden which is less than the value of the property given.

Donations may be inter vivos, which take effect during the donor’s lifetime, or mortis causa, which take effect upon the donor’s death.

While donations inter vivos are governed by the relevant provisions on donations under the Civil Code, donations mortis causa are covered by the provisions therein on succession.

There is still a donation inter vivos when the property shall be delivered until after the donor’s death. In this case, the fruits of the property from the time of the acceptance of the donation shall pertain to the donee, unless the donor provides otherwise. Likewise, an act remains a donation inter vivos even when it is subject to an event or suspensive condition, which may take place beyond the natural expectation of the donor’s life, unless a contrary intention appears.

Donations are perfected from the moment the donor knows of the donee’s acceptance. In this regard, the donee must accept the donation personally or through an authorized person with a special power of attorney for the purpose, or with a general and sufficient power. Otherwise, the donation shall be void.

Moreover, in order that the donation of property may be valid, the corresponding deed must be notarized, specifying therein the property donated and the value of the charges which the donee must satisfy.

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Meanwhile, the acceptance may be made in the same deed or in a separate public document, but must be done during the donor’s lifetime. If the acceptance is made in a separate instrument, the donor shall be notified thereof in an authentic form, and this step shall be noted in both instruments.

The following donations shall be void: (a) those made by a guardian or trustee in relation to the properties entrusted to them; (b) those made between persons who were guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of the donation; (c) those made between persons found guilty of the same criminal offense, in consideration thereof; (d) those made to a public officer or his wife, descendants, and ascendants, by reason of his office; and (e) those made to incapacitated persons, though simulated under the guise of another contract or through a person who is interposed.

A donor may donate all his present property, or a part thereof, provided he reserves, in full ownership or usufruct, sufficient means for the support of himself, and of all relatives who, at the time of the acceptance of the donation, are by law entitled to be supported by the donor. Without such reservation, the donation shall be reduced upon petition of any person affected. Donations cannot comprehend future property, which the donor cannot dispose of at such time.

Meanwhile, a donation may be reduced for being inofficious—that is, if the parties gave or received more than what they may give or receive by will. In this regard, the Supreme Court declared that inofficiousness may arise only upon the donor’s death as the value of donation may then be contrasted with the net value of his estate.

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