Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The existence of a confidential or fiduciary relationship between two parties does not prevent either party from making a gift to the other. However, when the gift is from the dependent party to the dominant party of the relationship, there arises a presumption that the gift was obtained by the exercise of undue influence on the donor and therefore void. Consequently, the burden is placed upon the donee to prove by "clear and satisfactory" evidence that the gift was not obtained by use of undue influence. The relationship necessary to raise the presumption may be of any kind which implies confidence, e.g.,guardian and ward, physician and patient, nurse and invalid, attorney and client, or any other relation of confidence between persons which gives one dominion or influence over the other. The presumption of invalidity applies also to transactions other than gifts. Thus, a deed, contract, or mortgage will be presumed invalid if the person benefiting from the transaction occupied the dominant position over the other in a confidential relationship.