What to do if a couple of years ago my grandparents bought a truck and gave it to me but now want it back?

UPDATED: Mar 24, 2015

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What to do if a couple of years ago my grandparents bought a truck and gave it to me but now want it back?

I live in another state and received a letter from them saying that if I don’t bring the truck to them and all of the keys that they would report it stolen and prosecute me. Where do I stand legally here? Can they legally do that?

Asked on March 24, 2015 under Business Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Legally, they can't. Practically, they may be able to.

Legally, once something is gifted, that's that--the giver can't get it back, and it belongs to the recipient. But proving that can be difficult if there is nothing in writing showing that it was gifted. It can be even more difficult for a vehicle, since if it was never titled in the recipient's name, the presumption is belongs to the person(s) in whose name(s) it is titled. In this case, if your grandparent's titled the truck to you, you shouldn't have to worry--you can show that it is yours. But if it's titled to your grandparents, the law will presume that it belongs to them, and it may be very difficult to show that they gave it to you. In that case, even though they should not be able to get it back in theory, in practice, if the documentation (title) makes it appear that it belongs to them, you may not be able to show that it was gifted to you.

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