In the state of Washington, an engagement ring is generally considered to be a conditional gift. This means that the person who receives the ring doesn’t become its rightful owner until after the wedding takes place. However, there are scenarios in which a ring could be an unconditional gift.
The elements of a gift
From a legal perspective, the gifting process is a relatively straightforward one. The first step in the process is to present an item to another person with the intent of giving it away as a gift. The individual who receives the offer will then choose whether to accept or reject it. In the event that the gift is accepted, ownership of the item transfers from the donor to the recipient.
Is a gift conditional or unconditional?
Generally speaking, an engagement ring signifies a promise to get married. If the marriage doesn’t occur, the recipient of the ring has broken that promise. Therefore, the person who bought the ring is generally considered to be its legal owner.
However, when the wedding takes place, the transaction is complete. Furthermore, an individual may have the right to keep his or her wedding ring in a divorce proceeding. In some cases, the value of the ring will is community property and split evenly between the parties.
If you’re like most people, you’ll want to donate, sell or otherwise get rid of anything gifted to you by a former partner. However, it may be in your best interest to speak with an attorney before doing so in order to determine that you are its legal owner.