What is an inter vivos transfer?
An inter vivos transfer is a transfer of property made between living people. For example, where you give someone a flat-out gift of property, that is an inter vivos transfer and that property would not be part of your probate estate when you die because, obviously, you no longer own it. More specifically, a gift of property will count as an inter vivos gift if: (i) you intended to give the gift, voluntarily, to another person; (ii) your giving of the gift was gratuitous, meaning you received nothing in return for it; (iii) you actually gave the property to another person; and (iv) that other person accepted the gift.
When people are planning their estates, drafting their wills, etc., they will often give inter vivos gifts of some of their property because it lets the other person enjoy it immediately, it gets the property out of the estate making the whole process easier, and it may have advantageous tax implications. However, there are certain disadvantages to an inter vivos transfer, mainly that these transfers are not revocable, so you can’t ever get the property back and you lose all control over it. When you want to retain some control over the property, you might be better off putting it into an inter vivos trust.