Gift giving can benefit both the giver and the recipient. It feels good to give, sure, but did you know strategic gift giving of personal items can also be a tool in your estate planning toolbox? It can. If you have items you know you want certain family members to have, you can give them the items now, rather than later. Like with most things, there are rules to be aware of in determining if the gift is valid.

A gift is something someone gives voluntarily and without any expectation of anything in return. Yet, when someone gives a gift intentionally as part of reducing one’s estate, and physically transfers the item to the recipient, both parties win. If you are thinking of making the perfect gift this holiday season from your personal belongings, learn the law of gift giving.

  • Donative intent — the giver desires to give the item to the recipient
  • Delivery — the giver physically gives the gift item to the recipient (rather than simply saying he or she will give it later)
  • Acceptance — the recipient takes possession of the item

Many people choose to give heirloom gifts of jewelry, family collectibles, guns, antiques, and many other items while they can still be a part of the giving. In fact, by lessening the burden of distributing personal belongings after someone has died, the gift giver experiences the joy of being present and watching it be received and enjoyed. He/she also makes a statement that he or she not only wanted to give the gift, but gave the gift and the recipient took possession.

An Ideal Family Heirloom Gift for the Ideal Family Occasion

Consider this scenario. Victor inherited an antique bed from his grandmother in 1980. He has restored and cared for the vintage piece of furniture for the past 37 years since his daughter, Julie, was just a child. Julie and his son-in-law, Jack, purchased an old farm house and with plans to furnish it with period furniture. Victor knew Julie had always loved the bed her great-grandmother had given her parents and cherished it. She thought it would be an excellent centerpiece for her new master bedroom. The day the couple closed on their property, Victor brought a gift box with a photo of the bed tucked inside. He said to Julie and Jack as they opened to box, “This bed has provided rest and comfort to three generations and now it can continue to give that comfort to you and your new family, Happy Housewarming!”

None of Victor’s heirs will ever question the ownership of the antique bed because Victor gave it while he was still alive.

With estate planning in mind, the holiday season can also be a good time to begin conversations with family members about intentions for family heirlooms, and for all personal wishes. Often ideas about intentions are misread and sadly, communication breaks down. The best way to be sure beloved items such as family quilts, jewelry, artwork, collectibles, and other personal belongings are given to those who truly cherish and respect the items’ place in your family tree is to start the conversation. And, the answer to why Estate Planning is a perfect holiday gift lies in the fact that it gives both ways. The giver has peace of mind knowing his or her intentions are honored. The recipient delights in the gift and can appreciate the giver’s intentions while he or she is still alive.

Give While You Live

Distributing gifts to family members while you are still alive may also be the choice option for you to reduce your estate. Before you choose to begin doling out gifts from your estate to family, it is important for you to understand the implications of this gift giving on your estate plan. Someone in the family may have spent his or her life thinking the item would be his/hers. To be sure your holiday gifting list of personal property is right for you and your estate plan, contact an Arizona estate planning attorney to learn your best strategy.

During your initial consultation with the Law Offices of Paula Hannah, PLC, you’ll get a better idea about the tools you can use to begin distributing family gifts now, before you die. Law Offices of Paula Hannah, PLC knows that estate planning is very personal and involves an in-depth understanding of your unique needs, so schedule a consultation today to learn more.