Naked intent not enough | Inquirer Business
Property rules

Naked intent not enough

Mina, a spinster and aunt of Lucy, purchased from Stella an agricultural lot with the intention of giving said lot to her niece, Lucy. Thus, in the deed of sale, Lucy was designated as the buyer of the lot. The purchase was partially paid and said fact was stated in the deed.

Mina applied for the issuance of title in the name of her niece, Lucy. The title was issued in the name of Lucy. Said title, however, remained in the possession of Mina who developed the lot through Rio and paid real property taxes thereon.


The relationship between Mina and spouses Lucy and Romy, however, turned sour. Lucy allegedly became disrespectful and ungrateful to the point of hurling her insults and even attempting to hurt her physically. Hence, Mina filed a case for revocation of implied trust to recover legal title over the property.

Lucy and Romy claimed that the purchase price of the lot was only an amount equivalent to the partial payment and that it was them who paid the same. The payment and signing of the deed of sale allegedly took place in the office of a lawyer in the presence of Stella and her siblings. They further claimed that Rio approached Lucy and volunteered to till the lot, to which she agreed. They also consented to Mina’s proposal to develop and lease the lot.


They, however, shouldered the real property taxes on the lot, which was paid through Mina. The relationship went down the drain when the spouses demanded rental from Mina but she refused to pay because her agricultural endeavor was allegedly not profitable.

Q: Is the donation made by Mina in favor of Lucy valid?

A: No. In the instant case, what transpired between Mina and Lucy was a donation of an immovable property which was not embodied in a public instrument as required Article 749 of the Civil Code which provides that in order that the donation of an immovable property may be valid, it must be made in a public document, specifying therein the property donated and the value of the charges which the donee must satisfy.

The acceptance may be made in the same deed of donation or in a separate public document, but it shall not take effect unless it is done during the lifetime of the donor. 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.

Being an oral donation, the transaction was void. Moreover, even if Mina enjoyed the fruits of the land with the intention of giving effect to the donation after her demise, the conveyance is still a void donation mortis causa, for non-compliance with the formalities of a will. No valid title passed regardless of the intention of Mina to donate the property to Lucy, because the naked intent to convey without the required solemnities does not suffice for gratuitous alienations, even as between the parties inter se.

Q: When is a donation perfected?

A: Unlike ordinary contracts (which are perfected by the concurrence of the requisites of consent, object and cause pursuant to Article 1318 of the Civil Code), solemn contracts like donations are perfected only upon compliance with the legal formalities under Articles 748 and 749.

Otherwise stated, absent the solemnity requirements for validity, the mere intention of the parties does not give rise to a contract. The oral donation in the case at bar is therefore legally inexistent and an action for the declaration of the inexistence of a contract does not prescribe. Hence, Mina can still recover the title from Lucy.

Q: Is the principle of implied trust finds application in the instant cas?

A: No. The concept of implied trusts is that from the facts and circumstances of a given case, the existence of a trust relationship is inferred in order to effect the presumed intention of the parties.


Thus, one of the recognized exceptions to the establishment of an implied trust is where a contrary intention is proved, as in the present case. Mina herself said, she wanted to give the lot to Lucy as a gift. To her mind, the execution of a deed with Lucy as the buyer and the subsequent issuance of title in the latter’s name were the acts that would effectuate her generosity.

In so carrying out what she conceived, Mina evidently displayed her unequivocal intention to transfer ownership of the lot to Lucy and not merely to constitute her as a trustee thereof. It was only when their relationship soured that she sought to revoke the donation on the theory of implied trust, though as previously discussed, there is nothing to revoke because the donation was never perfected.

(Source: Abellana vs Sps. Ponce, G.R. No. 160488, Sept. 3, 2004)

The author is Dean, College of Law at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, and Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Philippine Association of Law Schools

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