Can You Take a Gift Back Legally?

Taking back a gift sounds like something weird and incivility in most cases. 

The gift is the best way to reveal love and affection to the desired person. When you give any kind of gift to someone, it turns into his or her property. 

Even then people have the question “Can you take a gift back legally?”. Well, there are some special facts about when you can take back your gift. In some cases, there is no possibility of collapsing your politeness by asking for the gift back. 

However, you can’t take any legal steps for getting the gift item back. All you have to do, following some diplomatic steps and end the conversation gently. Keep that in mind that the person isn’t compelled to return the gift item to you. So, you don’t have the right to create any forceful situation to get the gift item back. 

Can you take a gift back legally?

It’s inappropriate to take a gift item back. The unconditional gifts are the gift for any special day, congratulating gift, encouraging gift, and many more. Never think about asking for these kinds of gifts back. However, the conditional gift items can be taken back sometimes. All the conditional gifts don’t come with paper signing or any kind of legal procedure. For example, the diamond ring for the engagement is a conditional gift to the lady from a male. This gift is given under the condition of marrying each other. There might be any unwanted facts for which the marriage may not occur. In that case, the gift can be claimed to get returned and it’s legal.

Is a gift legally binding?

Most gifts are given unconditionally. But, some gifts have some legal bindings. When it’s a matter of donation as a gift, it goes through some formal procedures. You can’t take the donation back if it’s done with some legal steps and promises. The question arises – “If someone gives you a phone, can they take it back?”. If the phone is given without any written condition, then the gift can be demanded back. On the flip side, the gift can’t be taken back if it’s given for performing any desired purpose. According to the general contract law, a valid gift is legally enforceable to transfer. California Civil Code Section 1146 says that “A gift is a transfer of personal property, made voluntarily, and without consideration.” So, it’s clear that most gifts don’t contain any legal binding. 

What is the process of taking a gift back? 

When someone gives you something then wants it back, what would you do? You must return the gift and leave the place politely. Perhaps, the desired person will also do the same thing. Here you get some suggestions to get the gift item back, maintaining the proper etiquette. 

Contact with the desired person

Contact through email, phone, or any formal way first. Before telling about returning the gift item, make some formal conversations. Perhaps, you may already have grown a bad relationship with that person. Then, fix a meeting schedule instead of prolonging the conversation. 

Get a suitable schedule

Prioritize the person’s convenient time to fix the final schedule. You may have something really important on that day. Tell him or her politely and change the date. When fixing the schedule, mention the exact date and time along with the exact location. 

Meet somewhere and start with some good words

It’s better to select an area like a restaurant or somewhere else. Instead of starting to talk about the gift first, talk about how his or her days are going on. 

Explain the valid reason

The most important part is upholding the valid reason for taking the gift back. You may have already stated the reason in the previous contact. But, it’s time to clarify the exact reason and show your right to get the gift back.

Offer an instant lunch or supper

After taking the gift back, offer the person lunch or dinner. Most probably, the proposal won’t be accepted but it’s a part of general manners. Sometimes, the gifts are taken back for exchanging them. In that case, there is no problem sitting for a meal together. 

Leave peacefully

Last, of all, leave the place peacefully. Don’t forget to say “Thanks” to the person for the valuable time. 

Should you take a gift back?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, unconditional gifts are okay to take back. You can consider these facts to take the gift back. 

The value of the gift

Some unconditional gifts have great value of money or other significance. You have the right to take back these kinds of gifts. If the gift doesn’t contain a great value to you, it’s better not to take the gift back. 

The betrayal issue

There might be some betrayal issues between you and the gifted person. If you’re intended to end the relationship forever, then you can want the gift back. However, it’ll be your generous behavior not to take the gift item from him or her. 

Misunderstanding for the inappropriate gift

Sometimes, the desired person becomes unhappy because of an inappropriate gift. The misunderstanding can only be concluded by your effort. It’s mandatory to take the gift item back in this circumstance. Later, you can purchase another suitable gift and fix the relationship again. 


This part discusses some relevant questions about taking a gift item back. 

Can a gift of money be taken back legally?

Gift money isn’t something like a contract. It’s given as a gift and there must be no objection to returning it. But, you have to show the legal reason behind this occurrence. Sometimes, the gift of money is confined to a contract. It’s inappropriate to demand this type of money. 

Can a parent take back a gift?

Parents can take back a gift if the gift creates any negative impact on the children. The gifts are given to the children under some conditions. So, it can be taken back anytime if they fail to fulfill it. But, the result of doing this with children must not be fruitful every time. 

If someone gives you a car as a gift can they take it back?

If someone gives you a car as a gift, it’s your property as a gift. Some facts may downgrade your relationship with the person at any time. Then, if they ask to return it, you have to follow their words. Unless you have any legal binding of keeping the car, you have to leave the car. 


Taking a gift item back isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you’re an introverted person, the task may seem more difficult. It’s a common question- “Can you take a gift back legally?”. 

When your gift item isn’t a donation or something else, you have the right to get it back. Remember, the gift item is owned by the gifted person after you hand it over on any occasion. 

So, creating any bad scene isn’t acceptable because it may lead you to a felony. If you follow the legal steps and hold a good manner, ultimately you can get the gift back.

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