Legal cartoons and humorous comment (c) Paul Brennan. All rights reserved.

I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001.
Paul Brennan, Lawyer, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

# 85 They put inheritances at risk

Gifts. The importance of giving correctly.

Legal cartoon, barristers. courts, Paul Brennan
Dear John
My elderly, rich, uncle is dying but has such a dislike of lawyers he refuses to make a will.  As his closest and dearest relative I am naturally concerned about this crazy notion.

Dear RL
When you say dying, my experience is that once people reach 55 they seem to spend a lot of time dying or at least mentioning signs of decline.  Rich people can be the worst offenders often outliving caring neighbours only to make a Will decades later in favour of the 50 something blond across the road.  It is important to make sure that they are definitely on their way out and not just tyre kickers.
His verbal assurance is of no use, you need it in writing.  It is often difficult to find the right time to bring this up but, would it be too much trouble for him to give it to you by way of gift, before he goes?    Of course, this would probably cause tax issues for you, but it may help him to know that you are ready to make sacrifices too.  
There are three requirements for a gift:
  • An intention to donate.  His hatred of lawyers does sound odd.  But by exposing him you risk the gift being set aside due to a lack of intention caused by his mental state.  Most uncles are crazy but as they are often the source of unexpected windfalls it is seldom mentioned.
  • A sufficient act of delivery.  As in preparing Wills, a DIY approach to documents evidencing gifts especially large ones can end in tears, as polite words such as “I wish” or “I would like” may be interpreted as future intent rather than immediate intent e.g. “I HEREBY transfer”, so involve your lawyer before hospital visits. 
  • Acceptance of the gift by you.  I assume that you have this covered.
Without all three other beneficiaries could fight you for the money and worst of all your uncle in a lucid moment could ask for it back.
(c) Paul Brennan 2010.  Extract from John Fytit’s International Legal Problem Page. Now written on this blog. 

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