John F. McGrail, Jr. died intestate in 2016. His uncle, William J. McGrail, Jr., then filed a complaint against his nephew John’s estate, claiming ownership of a classic car that was part of that estate.

The uncle had entered a nursing home in Maryland in 2009. He claimed that, after he entered the nursing home, he asked his nephew to store the car at the nephew’s home in New Jersey because, as a nursing home resident, he was permitted by Medicaid to own a car.

The car was inoperable, so the nephew transported it from Maryland to New Jersey on a flatbed truck. From that time until the nephew’s death, the nephew repaired, maintained, stored, and insured the car and, in 2013, the title was registered to the nephew.

After the nephew’s death, the uncle offered pay for the storage of the car, and asked the administrator of the estate to return the car to him.

Following a hearing, the trial court concluded that the transfer of the car had been a gift, because it met the three elements required to prove a gift: (1) donative intent; (2) delivery of the item; and (3) absolute relinquishment of ownership and dominion. Although these elements must be proven by “clear, cogent, and persuasive” evidence, the court found that the nephew’s estate had done so.

On appeal, the Appellate Division agreed and affirmed the decision.

A copy of In the Matter the Estate of McGrail can be found here – In the Matter of the Estate of John F. McGrail, Jr., Deceased

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