A voluntary transfer of property or of a property interest from one individual to another, made gratuitously to the recipient. The individual who makes the gift is known as the donor, and the individual to whom the gift is made is called the donee.
If a gratuitous transfer of property is to be effective at some future date, it constitutes a mere promise to make a gift that is unenforceable due to lack of consideration. A present gift of a future interest is, however, valid.
Three elements are essential in determining whether or not a gift has been made: delivery, donative intent, and acceptance by the donee. Even when such elements are present, however, courts will set aside an otherwise valid gift if the circumstances suggest that the donor was, in actuality, defrauded by the donee, coerced to make the gift, or strongly influenced in an unfair manner. In general, however, the law favors enforcing gifts since every individual has the right to dispose of PERSONAL PROPERTY as he or she chooses.
Delivery Delivery of a gift is complete when it is made directly to the donee, or to a third party on the donee's behalf. In the event that the third person is the donor's agent, bailee, or trustee, delivery is complete only when such person actually hands the property over to the donee.
A delivery may be actual, implied, or symbolic, provided some affirmative act takes place. If, for example, a man wishes to give his grandson a horse, an actual delivery might take place when the donor hires someone to bring the horse to the grandson's farm. Similarly, the symbolic delivery of a car as a gift can take place when the donor hands the keys over to the donee.
Delivery can only occur when the donor surrenders control of the property. For example, an individual who expresses the desire to make a gift of a car to another but continues to drive the car whenever he or she wishes has not surrendered control of the car.
A majority of states are practical about the requirement of a delivery. Where the donor and the donee reside in the same house, it ordinarily is not required that the gift be removed from the house to establish a delivery. If the donee has possession of the property at the time that the donor also gives the person ownership, there is no need to pass the property back and forth in order to make a legal delivery. Proof that the donor relinquished all claim to the gift and recognized the donee'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...