MUST THE DONATION OF A MOTOR VEHICLE BE ACCOMPLISHED BY AUTHENTIC ACT ONLY?


A donation inter vivos must generally be made by authentic act. La. Civ. Code art. 1541 (2014); See also La. Civ. Code art. 1833 (2014). However, under Civil Code article 1543, a donation inter vivos of a corporeal movable may be made by delivery of the thing to the donee without any other formality. Possession of the corporeal movable by the donee constitutes acceptance of the donation. La. Civ. Code art. 1544 (2014).

A corporeal movable is a thing, whether animate or inanimate, that normally moves or can be moved from one place to another. La. Civ. Code art. 471 (2014).

A motor vehicle is a corporeal movable. The donation of a motor vehicle is therefore governed by Civil Code article 1543. However, the donation of a motor vehicle is also governed by the provisions of the Vehicle Certificate of Title Law set forth at La. R.S. 32:702 - 738.

Note - On its website, http://expresslane.org, the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles offers a form for an act of donation of a motor vehicle. The form requires that the donor and the donee sign in the presence of a notary and two witnesses. In other words, the form is intended to be executed as an authentic act.

Under Section 705.1, as enacted, the donation of a motor vehicle by manual gift under Civil Code article 1543 documented by delivery of the motor vehicle title “executed by the donor-owner” may be submitted to the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles to transfer the vehicle to a “Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission licensee.”

A “Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission Licensee” is defined as “any person who is required to be licensed” by the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission. La. R.S. 32:1252(6) and (22) (2014). In this context, the term merely seems to require that the donee by a licensed driver.

Accordingly, under Section 705.1, it appears that an act of donation in authentic form is no longer required to transfer the title to a donated vehicle. Rather, the donee must simply present the title “executed by the donor-owner” at the Office of Motor Vehicles to transfer the vehicle to the donee’s name.

Section 705.1 further provides that the Office of Motor Vehicles “shall promulgate rules and regulations for implementation of this Section.”

Note - The transfer of a vehicle titled in the name of a deceased person is addressed at La. R.S. 32:707.1.

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