Death Bed Gifts – the importance of an up to date Will

The recent appeal case of King v Chiltern Dog Rescue & Redwings Horse Sanctuary reinforces the importance of having an up to date Will.

This case concerned the gift of the deceased’s house to her nephew by way of handing over the Title Deeds to her property when she was nearing the end of her life. The Court initially found that her actions had amounted to a valid death bed gift, otherwise known as a donatio mortis causa.

However, the Court of Appeal reversed this decision and highlighted the three requirements of a valid donatio mortis causa:-

  1. The Donor must contemplate their death in the near future for a specific reason
  2. The Donor must make a gift which only takes effect if and when their contemplated death occurs
  3. The Donor must pass possession or control of the gift to the beneficiary

Here the Court found the deceased was not contemplating her death for a specific reason because she was not suffering from a fatal illness , due to undergo a dangerous operation or complete a dangerous journey.

The Court reiterated the strict requirements of a death bed gift and stressed it was not an alternative to making a new Will.

This case highlights the importance of making sure your Will is up to date. For further information on making a new Will, please contact Michelle Hetheridge on 0121 227 3850 or email

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