Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Gift Over Definition:

To provide for the gift of property to a second recipient if a certain event occurs, such as the death of the first recipient.

Related Terms: Donatio Mortis Causa, Cy-pres, Life Estate, Saunders v. Vautier, Rule in

For example, I give you my car but insist that on your death; you must give it to your child; that is ultimately a gift to the benefit of your child.

A gift over removes the applcation of the Rule in Saunders v Vautier.

In his three volume treatise best known as Jarman on Wills, Thomas Jarman wrote:

"(T)he essential qualities of a gift over are, first, that it is a gift to arise upon a future contingency, and secondly, that it operates by way of defeasance or shifting of a prior gift which wouild be absolute were the contingency not to occur."

In Re Ashton, Justice Sargant wrote:

"The contingency must not be so selected as to run counter to the general policy of the law. Thus gifts over on any of the following conditions amongst others are bad - namely, (a) any contingency that is too remote, (b) the contingency of any mariage whatsoever...."


  • In re Freeney's Estate, 142 A. 284 (1928)
  • Jarman, Thomas, A Treatise on Wills, 8th Ed. (London: Sweet & Maxwell Limited, 1951), volume 2, page 1332.
  • Re Ashton, [1902] 2 Ch. 481

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