WELCOME TO GIFT LAW
Gift law is all about the voluntary relocation of possessions from one person to another. The donor is the one who gives the gift, and the recipient or the receiver of the same is known as done. There are some rules pertaining to the transfer of gifts, or exchange of properties. There are three important elements that act as a deciding factor on whether a gift has been made or not. These three are donatives’ intent, and acceptance by the done.
However, courts will set aside an otherwise valid gift if the circumstances suggest that the donor was, in actuality, defrauded by the done, strongly influenced in an unfair manner, or coerced to make the gift, even if such elements are present. Since every individual has the right to dispose of Personal Property as he or she chooses, in general, however, the law favors enforcing gifts. The gift when delivered Provided some affirmative act takes place, a delivery may be actual, implied, or symbolic. When the donor surrenders control of the property, then only a delivery can occur.
A delivery may be actual, implied, or symbolic, provided some affirmative act takes place. If, for example, a man wishes togive his grandson a horse, an actual delivery might take place when the donor hires someone to bring the horse to thegrandson’s farm. Similarly, the symbolic delivery of a car as a gift can take place when the donor hands the keys over to thedonee.
Delivery can only occur when the donor surrenders control of the property. For example, an individual who expresses thedesire to make a gift of a car to another but continues to drive the car whenever he or she wishes has not surrenderedcontrol of the car.
A majority of states are practical about the requirement of a delivery. Where the donor and the donee reside in the samehouse, it ordinarily is not required that the gift be removed from the house to establish a delivery. If the donee haspossession of the property at the time that the donor also gives the person ownership, there is no need to pass the propertyback and forth in order to make a legal delivery. Proof that the donor relinquished all claim to the gift and recognized thedonee’s right to exercise control over it is generally adequate to indicate that a gift was made.
In instances where delivery cannot be made to the donee, as when the person is out of the country at the time, delivery canbe made to someone else who agrees to accept the property for the donee. If the individual accepting delivery is employedby the donor, however, the court will make the assumption that the donor has not rendered control of the property and thatdelivery has not actually been made. The individual accepting delivery must be holding the property for the donee and notfor the donor.
In situations where the donee does not have legal capacity to accept delivery, such delivery can be made to an individualwho will hold it for him or her. This might, for example, occur in the case of an infant.
Donative Intent Donative intent to make a gift is essentially determined by the donor’s words, but the courts also considerthe surrounding circumstances, the relationship of the parties, the size of the gift in relation to the amount of the donor’sproperty as a whole, and the behavior of the donor toward the property subsequent to the purported gift.
The donor must have the legal capacity to make a gift. For example, Infants or individuals judged to be unable to attend totheir own affairs have a legal disability to make a gift.
In addition, an intent to make a gift must actually exist. For example, a landlord who rents a house to a tenant does nothave the intent to give such premises to the tenant, even though the tenant takes possession for an extended period oftime. Similarly, a gift to the wrong person will not take effect. If an individual mistakenly gives gold jewelry to an imposterwho is believed to be a niece, the gift is invalid because there was no intention to benefit anyone but the niece.The intentmust be present at the time the gift is made. For example, if one person promises to give a house to an artist “someday,”the promise is unenforceable because there is no intent to make an effective gift at the time the promise is made. The mereexpectation that something will someday be given is not legally adequate to create a gift.
Acceptance The final requirement for a valid gift is acceptance, which means that the donee unconditionally agrees to takethe gift. It is necessary for the donee to agree at the same time the delivery is made. The gift can, however, be revoked atany time prior to acceptance.
A court ordinarily makes the assumption that a gift has been accepted if the gift is beneficial, or unless some event hasoccurred to indicate that it is not.