Newman v. Bost

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Newman v. Bost
Court North Carolina Supreme Court
Citation 29 S.E. 848, 122 N.C. 524
Date decided April 1, 1898


  • Mr. Van Pelt = an outright house owner; a wealthy man in North Carolina in the late 1800s whose wife was deceased; he didn't have any children
  • Mrs. Newman = the housekeeper of Mr. Pelt
  • Pelt gave Newman a set of keys & announced his desire to bequeath everything in his house to her
  • 1 of the keys was to a bureau in his house which contained a $3,000 life insurance policy
  • In 1896, Van Pelt died intestate & without children in Statesville, North Carolina
  • Upon Van Pelt's death, a relative of Van Pelt named Mr. Bost emerged claiming to be the administer of Van Pelt's house & other possessions
  • Bost cashed in on all the belongings in the house

Procedural History

  • Newman sued Bost in the Superior Court in North Carolina
  • Newman won in the trial court


By handing over a set of keys, can a person effectively deliver a gift of all personal property located in the person's home?


No; by handing over a set of keys only constructively delivers gifts that aren't present in the home or are incapable of physical delivery.




Justice Furches: Most items in the house weren't gifted to Newman by constructive delivery when Van Pelt handed her the keys to the home


Donatio Causa Mortis