If a friend gave me a gift about a year ago and now demands it back, am I legally entitled to keep the gift?

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If a friend gave me a gift about a year ago and now demands it back, am I legally entitled to keep the gift?

My friend gave me a ps2 memory card over a year ago and now demands it back. At the time, she said I could have it but now she’s saying that by saying I could have it, she actually ment I could have it til she wanted it back. However, she did not tell me this. Now she threatens to come and take it. Am I legally entitled to keep it?

Asked on April 15, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if something  was a gift at the time it was given--that is, it was given without expectation of it being returned, paid for, repaid, etc.--then the giver may not later ask for it back. (Or rather: she can always *ask,* but has no legal basis to require you to return it.) Only if it was a loan or something similar at the time it was given could the lender seek its return.

Practically, if you and your friend disagree about whether it was a gift or not, she could potentially bring a lawsuit for its return, though that's unlikely, given the cost and inconvenience, unless its a very expensive item. The issue then would be if should prove that it was a loan, not a gift. She may not simply take it, however--if she wants it back and feels she's entitlted to it, her only option is to take legal action.


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