Donation of immovable property must be in writing

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My best friend of almost 30 years told me that he will give me his small residential land in the province as a sign of gratitude for the many years of our friendship, which I gladly accepted. I believe it was easy for him to decide to give me his land because he has no wife or children to give it to and because he owns several pieces of property. I just want to know if our verbal agreement is enough or do we need to execute any document? Your advice will be highly appreciated.
Donato

Dear Donato,
The agreement that transpired between you and your friend is in the nature of a contract of donation. As provided under the law, “Donation is an act of liberality whereby a person disposes gratuitously of a thing or right in favor of another, who accepts it.” (Article 725, New Civil Code of the Philippines)
As a rule, a contract of donation is deemed perfected the moment the person donating (donor) knows of the acceptance made by the person to whom the donation was made in favor of (donee). (Article 734, Id.)
We wish to emphasize, however, that donations involving immovable property, such as lands, must comply with the following tenets:

“In order that the donation of an immovable 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.” (Article 749, Id.)

Accordingly, the verbal agreement between you and your friend is not enough to validate the donation, which he has made in your favor. Such agreement must appear in a public document that we commonly regard as Deed of Donation, particularly indicating therein the details of the residential land that he intends to bequeath in your favor, as well as the charges which you must satisfy.

Insofar as your acceptance, it must also be made in writing. Your acceptance may be manifested in the same Deed of Donation, which the two of you will execute for the bequeathal of the subject property or in a separate public instrument. In either case, it must be made within the lifetime of your friend. Should you decide to signify your acceptance in a separate public instrument, it is essential for you to inform your friend thereof and such step must be noted in both instruments.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net.

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