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In re Cohn

From lawbrain.com

In re Cohn, 438 F.2d 989 (1919), is a gratuitous transfers case involving a gift and the discussion of a gift’s necessary elements, such as delivery.

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Summary of Case Facts

Cohn gave to his wife, on her birthday, a document gifting her 500 shares of stock. He told her that he could not actually physically deliver the shares of stock at the moment, as they were currently held in a safe deposit box in his company’s name. He did state, however, that he would deliver them to her once he had them available. This presentation and statements were made in front of witnesses. Shortly thereafter, Cohn died. This question was brought before the court to determine whether the gift made to Cohn’s wife before his death was valid.


Was the gift valid, even though delivery was not effected before death?

Holding and Law

Yes. The court discussed the fact that there was obviously donative intent – intent to make the gift. The other component of a gift, physical delivery, was all but impossible at the time of the transfer. Evidence was presented to indicate that the stock certificates were being held out of state, under a corporate name at the time of the gift (the decedent was to enter into a new partnership on the day of his death, thus resulting in the physical availability of the stock certificates). In this case there was no evidence of fraud and no creditors involved. The gift was valid and effective.

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