By Property Soul
A Singaporean man is suing his ex-lover for the return of gifts given to her during their courtship, including $340,000 for a condominium unit bought under the woman’s name.
The ex-lover defended that he offered the property to her as a gift. He only asked for its return when their relationship turned soured.
On the other hand, the man complained of being cheated. He claimed that he was the rightful owner of the property. He purchased the property for investment. She was only holding it in trust and she knew that it had to be returned one day. He added that he wouldn’t even give his wife such a big present. He was hinting that his ex-lover, who is even younger than his eldest child, is merely a dispensable mistress in his eyes.
After the case was reported in the media, negative comments from netizens poured in. Sorry but our society only has sympathy for old woman conned by adopted China-born grandson. For old man cheated by China-born mistress, there is only contempt and mockery for his lust and naivety. If ladies had to use one word to describe ex who asks for compensation after break-up, it would be ‘cheap’.
Guys usually give expensive gifts to ladies under three circumstances:
- When there are special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day or Christmas (from generous guys only).
- Before or during courtship, they like to impress their crush with gifts in the hope of winning her heart.
- When they have done something very wrong and need to part with a small fortune to ask for forgiveness.
In all of the three situations, if the gift fails to serve its purpose – the gift giver has unrequited love, is not being forgiven or is asked to buy a better gift – the original gift will only be returned based on goodwill.
In other words, it is not an obligation to do so, no matter how valuable the gift is. If the lady decides not to return it, she has the right to keep it as a memory of their good times. The gift giver has no right to sue in order to get it back.
The same applies to anyone giving away property as gift.
Besides lovers and couples, some parents may buy properties in their children’s name as a gift, an interest-free loan or an investment. Some are buying their kids a roof over their head in face of soaring property prices. Others are doing it to borrow a bigger loan from the bank.
Whether you are a doting lover, spouse or parent, before you decide to buy property as a gift, please read the following advice extracted from a relevant article in my book No B.S. to Property Investment.
1. You have no claim if it’s a gift
Wikipedia’s explanation of a gift is ‘the transfer of something without the expectation of payment.’
Since it is a ‘gift’, by law you have no right to ask for it back, nor can you ask for anything in return, because you are giving it away out of your own free will, and not doing it under force or an unsound mind.
If something unplanned happens, say you are in financial difficulty or being made a bankrupt; or the relationship turns sour; or you want to transfer the property to another family member, you have no right to do so. It is because legally you have no right in the property.
You may be confident that (the gift receiver) will sell the property on your request and return the money to you after the sale. Remember that this is only based on trust or goodwill. It is not backed by law in any way.
2. Protect yourself if it’s a loan or an investment
If your intention is to buy the property as a pseudo interest-free (or low interest) loan, or if you are only buying it for your own investment, you should always back it up with a formal legal document.
Don’t take your chances. Have a side agreement signed by both parties. Specify clearly under what circumstances (the gift receiver) should sell or pay you back your sum of investment.
You don’t have to show it to any third party at this moment. Keep it somewhere safe and show it to your lawyer in the event of a dispute.
Have proper documentation of any evidence, including a copy or a receipt of the cheque for deposit, downpayment, loan repayment, etc. You need them in case of any argument.
(Note: The recommendations here are for your reference only. You are advised to consult a lawyer for advice on your specific case.)
You may like to read my previous post Buying properties in your child’s name.
This article was first published at propertysoul.com