Does a written legal Will supersede a verbal gift?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Does a written legal Will supersede a verbal gift?

Our mother passed away leaving a Will. She designated a specific piece of jewelry to go to me. My oldest sister is claiming our mother gave it to her months before her death. Who legally should have the piece of jewelry?

Asked on January 23, 2017 under Estate Planning, Texas


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If it comes down to it, a court may have to decide. If your sister is in possession of the jewelry and has been since prior to your mother's death, then it will most likley be assumed that your mother made a gift of the jewelry to her; if she was not in possession of the jewelry, then your sister's claim is more dubious and she may have a hard time proving the gift, at least without a witness or other evidence. That having been said, if it is found that the jewelry was gifted to your sister as she claims, then the terms of the Will do not control since a Will only applies to the assets in an estate at the time of the testator's (i.e. the peson who made the Will) passing and the jewelry was then no longer an asset of your mother.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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