• Donee-niece can demand title to piece of land from donor’s sibling

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My aunt who is single and has no children donated to me a piece of land where I built our family home. She gave it to me through a Deed of Donation, and asked my cousin to assist me in the transfer of this property to my name. The transfer did not materialize, however, because my cousin who was afflicted with cancer passed away.

    When my aunt got sick, one of her sisters took care of her. When my aunt passed away, her sister who took care of her during her illness obtained the title pertaining to the property donated to me from my aunt’s documents. I told her about the Deed of Donation, and I demanded the title. She refused to give it to me.

    For fear that the sister of my aunt (my other aunt) might sell the property, I went to the Land Registration Authority, and registered the Deed of Donation. The same was annotated at the back of the title. Considering that my other aunt has the title in her possession despite the annotation, I have fears that our family might be evicted. What is the best thing for me to do?

    Dear Carla,
    From the facts that you narrated, we took it to mean that your aunt gave the piece of land to you and she wished that the title to the property shall be transferred to your name while she was still alive, although the transfer did not materialize. It is then safe to assume that your aunt intended that the donation shall take effect during her lifetime.

    Under the Civil Law, donations are either inter vivos (between living persons) or mortis causa (in anticipation of death). A donation or gift as between living persons is called donatio mera or pura when it is a simple gift without compulsion or consideration, that is resting solely on the generosity of the donor, as in the case of most charitable gifts. It is called donatio remuneratia when given as a reward for past services, but still not under legal compulsion or consideration, as in the case of pensions and land grants. It is called donatio sub modo or modalis when it is given for the attainment of some special object or on condition that the donee shall do something not specially for the benefit of the donor, as in the case of endowment of hospitals, colleges, etc., coupled with the condition that they shall be established and maintained (Black’s Law Dictionary).

    A donation inter vivos is a gift made between the living. It is the ordinary kind of gift by one person to another. It is an act by which the donor divests himself at present and irrevocably of the thing given in favor of the donee who accepts it. Donation mortis causa on the other hand is a gift made by a person under the apprehension of death; as when anything is given upon condition that, if the donor dies, the donee shall possess it absolutely or return it if the donor should survive or if the donee should die before the donor. It is a gift in contemplation of death and is made with intent that it shall take effect only in case of the death of the giver (Ibid.).

    In view of your other aunt’s refusal to give you the title of the property donated to you, your act of having the Deed of Donation registered before the Register of Deeds and had it annotated or inscribed at the back of the title pertaining to the property is proper. The annotation relative to the Deed of Donation would serve as a warning to third persons who will be involved in any transaction involving the same property which is the subject of the donation.

    From the standpoint of third parties, it is a positive rule that a property registered under the Torrens system remains, for all legal purposes, the property of the person in whose name it is registered or inscribed, notwithstanding the execution of any deed of conveyance or encumbrance, unless the corresponding deed is inscribed or registered. If registered, it acquires validity as a conveyance or lien from the time of registration; and as the law states that unless such act is performed the deed does not serve as a deed of conveyance and cannot bind the property, it follows that, until then, the registered right of the owner subsists (Peña, Peña, Jr., Peña, Registration of Land Titles and Deeds, 1994 Edition, page 189).

    The donor, however, shall be liable to pay the gift tax or the donor’s tax. Section 98 of the National Internal Revenue Code provides that there shall be levied, assessed, collected and paid upon the transfer by any person, resident or non-resident, of the property by gift, a tax computed as provided in Section 99. The gift tax is a tax on the privilege of transmitting one’s property or property rights to another or others without adequate and full valuable consideration (Vitug and Acosta, Tax Law and Jurisprudence, 2006 Edition, page 225). The tax is computed depending on the fair market value of the property subject of the donation. If, however, the fair market value of the property does not exceed P100, 000.00 and such is the only donation made in a calendar year, the same is not subject to any donor’s tax (Section 99, Republic Act No. 8424, otherwise known as the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997).

    Generally, it is the donor who pays for the donor’s tax; however, if your aunt failed to pay the donor’s tax during her lifetime, you shall be liable to pay the tax due, so that you can validly effect the transfer of title to the property in your name. You may make further inquiries before the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which has jurisdiction over the property subject matter of the Deed of Donation as to the procedures in making the necessary tax payments. Upon payment of the required taxes, you can go to the concerned Register of Deeds where the property is registered and facilitate the transfer.

    If upon payment of the required taxes and registration fees, your other aunt still refuses to surrender the owner’s duplicate copy of the title to you, you may file a petition before the proper Regional Trial Court for the surrender of the owner’s duplicate title. In every case where the Register of Deeds is requested to enter a new certificate in pursuance of an instrument purporting to be executed by the registered owner, or by any reason of any instrument or proceedings which divest the title of the registered owner against his consent, if the outstanding owner’s duplicate certificate is not presented for cancellation when such request is made, the Registrar shall not enter a new certificate, but the person claiming to be entitled thereto may apply by petition in court. The court, after hearing, may order the registered owner or any person withholding the duplicate to surrender the same, and direct the entry of new certificate upon such surrender. If in any case the person withholding the duplicate certificate is not amenable to the process of the court, or if for any reason the outstanding owner’s duplicate certificate cannot be delivered, the court may, by decree annul the same, and order a new certificate of title to be entered. Such new certificate thereof and all duplicate thereof shall contain a memorandum of the annulment of the outstanding duplicate (Registration of Land Titles and Deeds, page 431).

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that our opinion is based solely on your narration of facts 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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