Constructive Delivery

Delivery of documents under the law can be either actual or constructive. Actual delivery is easy to spot; it occurs when someone physically hands you a document with the intent to hand it over. So, if the owner had signed the lease and handed it back to Maria, then actual delivery would have taken place, and the lease would have become immediately effective.

Michael W. Flynn
4-minute read

A court looking at this case would not focus on the time at which the deed was physically given to the daughter. The court would focus on what Dad intended when he wrote and signed the deed, and put it in his safety deposit box. Most courts looking at this situation would agree that Dad constructively delivered the deed to his daughter when he signed it and put it away for safekeeping.


This is different from the situation where Dad simply promises to give his property away at a later date. In that situation, a court would not find any constructive delivery of a deed because Dad did not exhibit the intent to presently give away his property. He only exhibited a future intent to do so, which cannot constitute constructive delivery. 


In Maria’s situation, the owner exhibited a present intent to give away the leasehold interest in the apartment, and thus delivery occurred. The owner might argue that the delivery was not valid because he changed his mind, and so his signature was only conditional. Most courts would reject this argument because once the owner signed the lease, he gave up the leasehold interest. It was no longer his to place any conditions on. If he wanted to condition his signature, he should have done so expressly.


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