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Hebrew Univ. Asso. v. Nye - 148 Conn. 223, 169 A.2d 641 (1961)

Rule:

To support a factual conclusion of an executed inter-vivos gift, there must be a donative intention and at least a constructive delivery. The donative intention need not be expressed, nor the delivery made, in any particular form or mode. For a constructive delivery, the donor must do that which, under the circumstances, will in reason be equivalent to an actual delivery. It must be as nearly perfect and complete as the nature of the property and the circumstances will permit.

Facts:

Decedent Ethel Yahuda inherited a large library from her late husband, a professor. During her lifetime, she told Hebrew University that she was making a gift of the library to it and even went so far as to attend a luncheon in her honor at which Ethel Yahuda make a formal announcement of her gift. However, she never actually tendered possession of the library to Hebrew University, although she did prepare it for shipping. Upon her death, Decedent bequeathed the bulk of her estate to a charitable trust or foundation, however, Hebrew University was not mentioned in the decedent's will. The trial court entered a judgment finding Hebrew University to be the owner of the library. George O. Nye and others, Executors of the Will of Ethel Yahuda, sought appellate review.

Issue:

Did the trial court err in finding Hebrew University to be the owner of the library?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut held that the trial court's judgment declaring that Hebrew University was the owner of the library was without support in the findings and could not stand. The court held that, at most, Decedent had the requisite donative intent such that, had she subsequently made a delivery of the property while that intent persisted, there would have been a valid, legal gift inter vivos. The court refused to remand the case for the entry of judgment in the Executors' favor, however, due to certain inconsistencies in the findings of the trial court. Therefore, the court remanded the case for a new trial.

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