If my father was given something, is it mine after he passes away?

My father passed away last month. I’m his only child and administrator of his estate. He was given a

4-wheeler by my grandmother after her husband passed away 8 years ago and it’s been in my father’s possession since and he used it daily on the farm. A few days ago, she texted me saying she wanted it back. Do I have to give it back or is it part of my father’s estate? I do have text proof she gave it to him 2 weeks after my grandfather passed away.

Asked on May 10, 2017 under Estate Planning, Indiana


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

An unconditional gift becomes the property of the recipient. Accordingly, when that person dies, the gift along with their other property become assets of their estate and pass to the their heirs if there is no Will. As an only child, assuming that your father was not survived by a spouse, you would be his only heir (note: if there was a Will, its terms prevail).  

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, a gift once given cannot be ungiven: if it was given unconditionally to him, then it became his. When he passed away, it will be distributed to whomever inherits from him the same as his other assets--which, if you the only child and there is no surviving spouse, should be you. You  do not need to return this. 

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