The Best Way to Transfer Property: Gift Deed or Will?


A gift deed and a will are both legal documents that focus on the transfer of ownership of property whether movable or immovable. They are both characterized by the absence of a monetary exchange and are usually transferred from the donor to the donee from a place of affection and not with the intention of financial gain. A gift deed is often used by people to gift their relatives or non-relatives gift while a will is used to leave behind property for relatives or non-relatives after the death of the donor. While they are quite similar in nature, it is important to understand the situations in which each must be used. This article will do a comparative study of the two and provide some pros and cons of each in a given situation.

Key Differences Between Will and Gift Deed

AspectWillGift Deed
Transfer TimingComes into effect after the testator's death.Takes immediate effect upon execution and registration.
RevocabilityCan be modified or revoked during the testator's lifetime.Irrevocable once executed, unless specified conditions.
Distribution PrecisionAllows specific instructions for asset distribution.Facilitates direct transfer to specified recipients.
Legal FormalitiesRequires probate and adheres to complex legal procedures.Involves relatively simpler legal procedures for execution.
Tax ImplicationsSubject to estate taxes and potential tax planning.May involve gift tax considerations based on the value.
Financial AssistanceDoes not provide immediate financial assistance.Offers immediate financial aid through asset transfer.
Expressions of GratitudeServes as a legal document, not an expression of gratitude.Represents a tangible gesture of appreciation and gift.

Gift Deed


A gift deed is a type of transfer ownership deed where there is a donor who voluntarily gives either a movable or immovable property to the donee who willingly accepts the gift. There is no monetary exchange in this type of transfer. The transfer of ownership via a gift deed is done during the lifetime of the donor and the ownership rights are transferred to the donee immediately however subjective to the terms of the deed, the donee may get possession after the death of the donor.

Key Features

  1. Voluntary Transfer: The gift deed must be executed willingly, without any pressure or coercion.
  2. No Consideration: The donee does not provide any monetary or material compensation for the property.
  3. Acceptance by Donee: The donee must formally accept the gift during the donor's lifetime.
  4. Registration: Gift deeds for immovable property must be registered with the sub-registrar's office for legal validity.
  5. Irrevocable Nature: Once executed and accepted, gift deeds are generally considered irrevocable, though exceptions may exist under specific circumstances that can be specified in the gift deed.

Situations Where Gift Deeds Are Beneficial Over Wills

1. Family Inheritance: Gift deeds play a crucial role in facilitating the smooth and timely transfer of property within families, ensuring that assets are passed down to future generations seamlessly. This approach offers several advantages over traditional inheritance procedures:

  • Control and Planning: Gift deeds allow family members to plan and execute asset transfers during their lifetime, providing greater control over the distribution of their wealth.
  • Reduced Legal Complexity: Unlike inheritance processes, which can involve lengthy court proceedings and complex legal procedures, gift deeds are relatively straightforward, minimizing administrative burdens and delays.
  • Tax Benefits: In certain cases, gift deeds may offer tax advantages compared to inheritance processes, allowing for more efficient wealth transfer.

2. Expressing Gratitude: Gift deeds serve as a tangible way to express gratitude for a significant contribution or service rendered by the donee.

3. Financial Assistance

Gift deeds can serve as a compassionate tool to provide financial assistance to family members or individuals in need. This form of financial aid can help relieve the donee of financial burdens. For example, the transfer of real estate from the donor to the donee can help generate a passive income for the donee.

4. Charitable Donations

Gift deeds enable the transferring of property to charitable institutions or trusts for philanthropic purposes. This form of donation supports various charitable endeavors and promotes social causes. In some cases, charitable donations made through gift deeds may be eligible for tax deductions, providing additional incentives for philanthropic giving.



A will is a legal document that outlines an individual's (the testator) wishes for the distribution of their assets and property after their death. It allows the testator to specify the beneficiaries, appoint guardians for minor children, and express their final wishes regarding their estate.

Key Features

  1. Revocability: Wills can be modified or canceled at any time until the testator's death, providing flexibility in managing their assets.
  2. Inheritance Rights: Upon the testator's passing, the will legally determines the distribution of assets among the designated beneficiaries.
  3. Guardianship Designation: Wills enable the testator to appoint guardians for minor children, ensuring their well-being and care in their absence.
  4. Final Wishes: Wills serve as a means to express personal wishes, preferences, and instructions regarding the testator's estate.

Situations Where Wills Are Advantageous Over Gift Deeds

1. Post Death Distribution

Wills offer the advantage of controlling asset distribution until the testator's death. Unlike gift deeds, which transfer ownership during the donor's lifetime, will allow the testator to retain control over their property and make any necessary adjustments to the distribution plan as their circumstances or wishes evolve. This flexibility ensures that the testator's final intentions are carried out precisely and that their assets are distributed according to their updated wishes.

2. Flexibility in Beneficiary Selection

Wills provide the testator with the freedom to modify the list of beneficiaries or their respective shares as circumstances change. This flexibility is crucial in addressing the dynamic nature of life and relationships. If the testator's circumstances or relationships with beneficiaries undergo significant changes, they can easily amend their will to reflect their updated preferences and ensure that their assets are distributed in a manner that aligns with their current intentions.

3. Guardianship Arrangements

Wills empower the testator to appoint guardians for minor children, ensuring their care and well-being after their death. This responsibility is paramount and will provide a formal and legally binding mechanism to designate the individuals the testator trusts to care for their children in their absence. By appointing guardians through a will, the testator can ensure that their children's well-being is prioritized and that their upbringing aligns with their values and wishes.

4. Estate Management

Wills serve as a comprehensive tool for managing the testator's estate. They allow the testator to outline specific instructions for managing their assets, handling debts, and liquidating property. This detailed guidance ensures that the estate is administered efficiently and in accordance with the testator's wishes. By providing clear instructions, will help prevent disputes among beneficiaries and facilitate a smooth and organized transition of the testator's assets.


In conclusion, gift deeds and wills are both legal instruments for transferring ownership of property, each with its own unique characteristics and applications. Gift deeds are ideal for immediate transfers, expressions of gratitude, and financial assistance within families, while wills are better suited for post-death asset distribution, guardianship arrangements, and maintaining control over assets until passing.

The choice between a gift deed and a will depends on the specific circumstances and intentions of the parties involved. Understanding the strengths and limitations of each tool is crucial for making informed decisions regarding property transfer and estate management.