Gift Deeds With No Consideration Recited – Are They Valid?

This issue was addressed in Allison v. Bale, 173 Wn. App. 435 (Feb. 2013), reconsideration granted (Mar. 12, 2013). Here’s what happened in Bale: Bob owned a cabin.  He had two nephews (John and Robert).  Bob regularly took his nephews to the cabin.  Bob married Edna in 1971.  Edna had two adult sons (Dennis and Allen) who regularly used and made improvements to the cabin.  Edna disliked John and Bob, so from 1971 until Edna died in 1999 John and Robert stopped visiting the cabin.  In 2003 Bob executed a will, declaring his intent that the cabin be conveyed to Dennis and Allen on his death.  In 2008 Bob was diagnosed with lung cancer and invited John and Robert over for lunch.  During lunch Bob told John and Robert that he wanted them to have the cabin.  John then found a form quit claim deed online.  Bob filled it out, leaving the lines after “in consideration of” and “quit claims to” blank.  But he did put John and Robert’s names in the grantee section of the deed’s caption.  On the real estate excise tax form (and the supplemental statement, required for gift deeds) Bob also indicated there was no debt on the cabin and that he was gifting it to John and Robert.  The deed was recorded in December 2008.  Bob died in April 2009.  Dennis and Allen filed a lawsuit, contending the gift deed was unenforceable because it recited no consideration and, therefore, the will controlled.  The trial court agreed with Dennis and Allen.  The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding (1) a recital of consideration is not needed to gift real property, and (2) Bob’s will did not rebut the strong evidence of Bob’s intent, evidenced by the gift deed.  RCW 64.04.050 says “Quitclaim deeds may be in substance in the following form: …”  The statutory form includes a space to recite consideration.  But a quitclaim deed need not precisely match the statutory form to be enforceable. The Washington Supreme Court granted reconsideration in March 2013. We’ll have to wait-and-see if Washington’s top court agrees with the trial court or the Court of Appeals.

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