Many people cannot imagine their families going to battle in court over the terms of their will after their passing. But it is an unfortunate reality that grief and probate can bring out the worst in people. Litigation over an estate is all too common. One significant source of this can be deathbed gifting or the practice of giving large gifts of assets and property to intended heirs in an individual’s final days. While many people think this might be a good idea because it helps the asset stay out of the probate process and out of the courts, that can be a mistaken belief.
Why Avoid Deathbed Gifting
One substantial reason to avoid deathbed gifting is that it can result in heated litigation. Last-minute and end-of-life gifts can raise a lot of questions. Taking the time to think through the worst-case scenario can help avoid a costly mistake later down the road.
For one, these assets are often already accounted for in an aging individual’s last will and testament. While gifts typically supersede the terms of a will, the circumstances surrounding a large gift can be murky. The person who received the gift may have a difficult time proving the existence of the gift or the intention of the gift giver. And if the original beneficiaries of the asset are not the ultimate gift recipient, tension can arise.