I am already old, a widow and have no children. My niece is my only companion in life and the one who is taking care of me. Though still a minor at 16 years of age, I am wondering if I can donate my only piece of property, a house and lot, to her as a gesture of repaying the good deeds she has done for me. If ever, is this donation valid? Can I put a provision in the donation that as long as I am still alive, I will be the one who will use the house?
Your desire to bestow upon your niece the house and lot mentioned in your letter without asking for anything in return is a donation. As defined, 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).
Since your niece is still a minor, she still has no capacity to enter into a contract. Nonetheless, her legal guardian may represent her in all her transactions. For instance, in a Deed of Donation, since she cannot accept as yet the donation, she may be represented by her parents or legal guardian in accepting the same. This is clearly provided under Article 741 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, to wit:
“Art. 741. Minors and others who cannot enter into a contract may become donees but acceptance shall be done through their parents or legal representatives.”
Thus, even if your niece is still a minor, you may donate to her what you think is appropriate to reward her for taking good care of you, such as the house and lot you mentioned in your letter. Also, since it appears that this house and lot is the only piece of property you own, you may reserve the use thereof exclusively to yourself even if the ownership is already transferred to your niece by way of donation. Article 750 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines gives light to this, to wit:
“Art. 750. The donations may comprehend all the present property of the donor, or part thereof, provided he reserves, in full ownership or in usufruct, sufficient means for the support of himself, and of all relatives who, at the time of the acceptance of the donation, are by law entitled to be supported by the donor. Without such reservation, the donation shall be reduced in petition of any person affected.”
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org