Inter Vivos Gift

Certificate of Deposit

Hayes v. Rinehart, 65 S.W.3d 286 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2001, no pet.).


Decedent opened a certificate of deposit entirely with his own funds but had the account titled in Daughter’s name. After Decedent died, each of his other two children claimed a one-third interest in the CD. The trial court determined that the CD was part of Decedent’s estate. Daughter appealed.

The appellate court affirmed. Although Daughter proved that the account was solely in her name, Daughter failed to prove that Decedent made an inter vivos gift of the certificate of deposit to her. The court held that the trial court did not violate the parol evidence rule when it allowed oral testimony from the other children that Decedent had placed the funds in Daughter’s name to receive Medicaid and other government-supplied benefits because that evidence was admissible to show fraud. The court also held that the trial court’s determination that an inter vivos gift of the CD did not occur because Decedent lacked donative intent was not so contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence as to be clearly wrong or unjust.

Moral: Merely designating a person as the owner of an asset is not sufficient to show that an inter vivos gift occurred. To prevent evidentiary problems after the donor’s death, inter vivos gifts should be unambiguously documented so the donee may establish the gift nature of the transfer.