In the Matter of the Estate of John F. McGrail, Jr., Deceased, No. A-4570-16T1, 2018 WL 2949145 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. June 13, 2018).
This decision applied the standards of a gift to affirm the transfer of a classic car.
Petitioner William J. McGrail, Jr.(“William”) filed a claim against the estate of his nephew, John McGrail, Jr. (“John Jr.” or “estate”). William claimed to be the owner of the vehicle. However, John Jr.’s estate contended the vehicle was a gift and was therefore an asset of the estate.
William purchased a new Austin Healy in 1966. He owned and possessed it until 2009, when he entered a nursing home in Maryland and asked John Jr. to store the vehicle in New Jersey. William maintained that Medicaid regulations permitted him to maintain ownership of the vehicle while he resided in the nursing home. Id. at *2.
The estate claimed that John Jr. drove to Maryland to retrieve the vehicle. From then until his death, he repaired, maintained, stored, and insured the vehicle in New Jersey.
The trial judge found that the vehicle was a gift from William to John Jr., because all three elements establishing donative intent were satisfied. Id. at *3. First, the judge found unequivocal notice of donative intent by William. William left the car in John Jr.’s possession since 2010 and did not seek to have it returned or contribute to the upkeep, storage, or insurance. Id.
Second, the judge determined the vehicle was delivered to John Jr. Id. Indeed, the vehicle was inoperable as of 2010, and John Jr. physically transported the car from Maryland to New Jersey on a flatbed truck. Id. at *3.
Third, the judge found relinquishment of ownership by William because the car was in John Jr.’s possession since 2010. Id. at *4. William never drove the car after 2010. Id.
The Appellate Division affirmed, and found that the three elements to prove a gift had been met.