gift causa mortis

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Gifts causa mortis is a Latin phrase used to refer to gifts made in contemplation of death which differ from gifts made inter vivos. Inter vivos refers to the average gift made between individuals who do not have high chances of mortality. Inter vivos gifts generally become irrevocable as soon as the donee accepts the gift, and after that point, the donor has no legal right to the gifted property. In contrast, gifts made in contemplation of death do not have the same treatment after the gift is made. First, the donor can demand for the gift to be returned. Second, the gift only becomes irrevocable once the donor dies. Thirdly, gifts made in contemplation of death are taxed as if they were in the estate, not as a gift. Fourthly, these gifts cannot include real estate, only personal property. Often, individuals who fear imminent death may not be able to update a will in time before death occurs. So, the individuals may try to make an immediate gift which can work if the court has the necessary evidence to infer that a gift was made. 

[Last updated in January of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]