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How long do I have to keep a "gift" that the person now wants back after almost a year?

Raytown, MO |

In June of 2011, my once best friend "gifted" me her washer and dryer when she had decided to start up a realtionship with my brother. Things went sour within a week because she couldn't stop drugs and sleeping around. Since my brother and her spilt up and she moved back to her family I have had possession of this washer and dryer. It sits in my apartment still to this day and she has not bothered to come and get it yet. I told her she wants it back she needs to come get it. Yet here it still sits. Now she is threatening to sue me in small claims court saying that I owe her the money for it when it was "gifted" to me and has also been in my possession 9 months. What are the laws about "possession is 9/10 of the law here in Missouri? Can I be sued for her abondoning her property?

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Filed under: Small claims court
Attorney answers 1


If the item is a gift, then it belongs to you and you can sell it, keep it, or throw it away, without fearing that the original owner will change her mind and return to demand the items. Legally, an item is considered a "gift" if 1) there was actual delivery of the item, 2) the donor had the intent to give the item to you as a gift, and 3) you accepted the gift.

It sounds like your former friend delivered the washer and dryer, with intent to give it to you as a gift, and you accepted the washer and dryer. In my opinion, the washer and dryer are a gift. They belong to you now and you can do whatever you want with them.

If your former friend told you she only wanted to store the items at your house for a while, or if she declared her intent to give the items to you but the items remained at her home, then it's not a gift. If she sues you, she won't win unless she can prove that you coerced her into delivering the washer and dryer to you, or that you knew she never intended to give you the items and only meant to store them at your house for a while.