A deed of gift is a document used to hand over the right to something (for example, property or land) to another person without asking anything from them in return. This is what makes it a gift rather than a contract. It is usually used to give gifts within families, for example, parents giving a house to their children. The giver is called the donor and the receiver is called the donee. Deeds have been used under English law for hundreds of years and there are very specific steps which need to be followed to make sure they are binding on both parties. Usually, a simple deed is binding immediately and cannot be changed or reversed ("revoked" in legal language) unless steps have been taken to make sure this doesn’t happen.
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Make it conditional. If you want to be able to change your mind about a deed, then you have to plan for it. Put a clause in the deed which makes it conditional upon something happening in the future. Then, if the specified event doesn’t happen, the gift will not transfer.
State your intentions clearly in the document. If you want to be able to revoke it in the future, say so. A deed will usually be binding once it is executed and delivered unless there is a clause in it permitting it to be revoked in some other way.
Don’t deliver it. A deed specifically needs to be executed correctly and delivered to the other party. Holding back on delivery, or passing it to an agent who is instructed to deal with it in a particular way will ensure that the document is not valid until the instructions are complied with.
Negotiate. If a deed has been executed and is valid, the donor does not normally have a chance to change his or her mind. But everything is subject to negotiation and by exploring a deal, you might be able to get your gift back.
Challenge it. You will need a proper legal basis to do this if you want to take it to court and it will be expensive. You might want to question whether the document has been executed properly. It must be signed by the donor and a witness who has no interest in the deed (ie, does not benefit from it.) Also, all parties including witnesses must be of "sound mind," ie, not insane and over the age of 18. The donor must not have been pressured or influenced to sign the document against their will.
How to reverse a deed of gift
Tips and warnings
- For simple deed drafting, there are standard form templates available on the internet.
- It is never a good idea to enter into a legal document without seeking advice from a solicitor beforehand.
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