Revocable Gifts of Legal Interests in Land

John L. Garvey, The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law


The current popularity of the revocable trust in the United States indicates that human nature has not changed through the centuries. Undoubtedly much impetus was given to the growth of the revocable trust in this country by the lenient manner in which it was treated by the tax laws; but statutory modifications have curtailed most of these advantages,' and the revocable trust continues to enjoy favor as a means of disposing of property, particularly as a means of gratuitously dividing it among family and friends.

There are many reasons for the continued popularity of this method of making gifts. One of the strongest deterrents to everyone's generous impulses is the fear that he might lose what he has and then be embarrassed by the want of the property given away. This deterrent is minimized when donors are permitted to retain a right to recover the property at any time they need or desire it. Undoubtedly another reason why many settlors retain a power of revocation is a desire to influence or exert some control over the subsequent conduct of the beneficiary. Thus the settlor can feel more or less secure in, at least, the ostensible affection and loyalty of the donee if he realizes that the property might be taken away from him if and when he incurs the disfavor of his donor.