Legal Memorandum: Elements for a Valid Inter Vivos Gift

Issue: Under Michigan law, what are the elements required to establish the existence of a valid inter vivos gift?

Area of Law: Estate Planning & Probate
Keywords: Valid inter vivos gift; Elements; Intent
Jurisdiction: Michigan
Cited Cases: 134 Mich. App. 696; 299 N.W. 113; 164 Mich. 183; 236 N.W. 790; 625 N.W.2d 136; 49 Mich. App. 20; 44 N.W.2d 856; 329 Mich. 32; 134 N.W.2d 657; 352 N.W.2d 705; 276 N.W. 904; 375 Mich. 605; 277 Mich. 604; 575 N.W.2d 574; 254 Mich. 298; 298 Mich. 374
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 02/01/2009

Michigan follows general common principles with respect to the elements necessary to establish a valid inter vivos gift.

In order for a gift to be valid, three elements must be satisfied: (1) the donor must possess the intent to transfer title gratuitously to the donee; (2) there must be actual or constructive delivery of the subject matter to the donee, unless it is already in the donee’s possession, and (3) the donee must accept the gift.  Acceptance is presumed if the gift is beneficial to the donee.”


Davidson v. Bugbee, 227 Mich. App. 264, 268, 575 N.W.2d 574 (1997). 

“The general rule is that ‘the burden of proving a gift was made, including the existence of all the elements necessary to its validity, is upon the donee or the party asserting the gift.”  Nogueras v. Maisel & Assocs., 142 Mich. App. 71, 83 369 N.W.2d 492 (1985) (quoting 38 Am. Jur. 2d Gifts § 92, p. 890).

As to the first element, “there must be an intent by the grantor to presently divest himself of title to and dominion over the subject of the gift,” and “such intent must be clear.”  Moore v. Beecher, 277 Mich. 604, 611, 269 N.W. 617 (1936) (citations omitted).

With respect to the element of delivery, the Michigan Supreme Court has stated that

it must be unconditional and it may be actual or constructive; the […]


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