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What is a gift causa mortis (and should I plan to give one)?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2023 | Estate Planning

Estate planning is an essential part of passing on your legacy. When you create your will and other documents, you give your family members the peace of mind that they will be able to distribute your assets after you pass away.

In some cases, your relationship with a loved one could change, or you could experience a dramatic event that leaves you to reconsider your estate plan. You may decide to give a gift in your final moments creating a gift causa mortis or “deathbed gift.”

Here’s what you should know about deathbed gifts and why they are not a practical part of an estate plan.

A gift causa mortis is (typically) not planned

Giving a gift causa mortis is not an estate planning loophole. While you can give someone a gift on your deathbed, it must meet certain conditions, including:

  • Being voluntarily
  • While still conscious and of sound mind
  • In anticipation of death
  • Being accepted by the recipient while you are still alive

Although a gift causa mortis bypasses some of the probate rules, it is not an event you can count on while meeting all criteria.

Giving gifts and estate planning

A gift causa mortis is not the only way to give a loved one part of your legacy without going through probate. You can also give your friends and family members gifts before you pass away. Since these are gifts you make while you are still alive, they shift from your property to their property without considering your estate plan.

However, a carefully crafted estate plan means you can establish trusts and other documents that can help you support your loved ones into the future. You should talk to your family and a skilled attorney about your estate plan and how you want to pass on your legacy.


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