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Woo v. Smart

Supreme Court of Virginia
442 S.E.2d 690 (Va. 1994)


Facts

William D. Yee had a close relationship with S. Hing Woo (defendant) for 19 years. Yee was diagnosed with coronary heart disease in 1985. On March 27, 1989, Yee believed that he was near death. That day, he gave Woo two checks for $42,700.00 and $80,000.00, and the next day he gave her a check for $1900.00. He told her that he wanted her to have the money if he died. On March 29, Yee died. The next day, Woo received the proceeds for the $42,700.00 and $1900.00 checks. She was unable to receive the proceeds on the $80,000.00 check because it represented funds in a savings account. The administrator of Yee’s estate (plaintiff) filed suit for the return of the $44,600 that Woo had received from the two checks. Woo argued that Yee had made gifts causa mortis, and so she was entitled to the proceeds of the checks. The trial court found that there was no gift causa mortis because the money had not been delivered to Woo before Yee’s death.  Yee appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Compton, J.)

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