Donative Intent

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The conscious desire to make a gift, as distinguished from giving something as a gift by mistake or under pressure. When a donor makes a gift with donative intent, that may preclude the creation of a contractual relationship. For example, in Mortellaro v. Mortellaro, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York stated that the “key elements to finding a gift [and therefore not a contractual relationship are] donative intent, delivery . . . and acceptance.” In that case, where a husband opened a bank account in the wife’s name for convenience, because only she had a will, the court held that there was no donative intent since the donor’s motivation was convenience. On the other hands, courts may find that certain transfers of property or relationships establish a presumption of donative intent. For example, in Murgic v. Granite City Trust & Sav. Bank,the Illinois Supreme Court held that the creation of a joint account pursuant to the state statute ruling the creation of such accounts donative in nature establishes a presumption of donative intent.

[Last updated in November of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]