Lifetime gifts
Lifetime gifts

The following Private Client practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Lifetime gifts
  • Specific transfer formalities
  • Land
  • Company shares
  • Personalty
  • Delivery
  • Equitable interests
  • Trusts
  • Benefits
  • Creation
  • More...

A lifetime gift is a gratuitous transfer of ownership of any property between living persons and not made in expectation of death. In contrast, gifts made in contemplation of death may qualify as deathbed gifts or donatio mortis causa. See Practice Note: Devolution of assets and the need for a grant—Deathbed gifts.

In order for a lifetime gift to be valid, it is not essential for the legal ownership to be transferred to the recipient. A donor may make a perfect gift of the beneficial ownership of the asset while retaining the legal title (a trust). The distinguishing mark of a gift as compared to another type of transfer is the absence of consideration.

A lifetime gift may be made by:

  1. deed or other instrument in writing

  2. delivery in cases where the subject of the gift is capable of delivery

  3. declaration of trust, which is the equitable equivalent of a gift

There will be no gift if the donor is not competent to give and/or the donee competent to receive. For guidance on capacity to make gifts, see Practice Note: Capacity to make gifts, settle property and contract.

The issue of gifts is likely to arise when clients are considering who will inherit their estate and whether there are any ways to mitigate inheritance tax (IHT) that would otherwise arise on death. However, while lifetime gifts may readily

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