My ex gifted me a gaming laptop about six and a half months ago. He told me straight ward that he was giving me the laptop. I even offered money to him for it and he denied it. Now he's saying he needs it to do work and he only let me "borrow" it, not have it. But he literally told me he was giving it to me because he never used it, and I've put money into modifying it. I've added ram, storage, etc. I don't think I should be giving back something that was given to me and that I've literally put my money into. Does he have any legal bases to take it back?

Also, to make this clear.. A premise of this question to be taken as a given is that he did gift me the laptop, that's why he didn't accept my money when I offered.

  • 2
    As an intellectual exercise (which is all we do) you can stipulate that it is a gift for the purposes of Law SE, but you would have to prove that it was actually a gift if this goes to court.
    – user6726
    Jan 21 at 16:16
  • But he can't prove that said that I can borrow it. Because like I said before, I would never accept a "borrowed" gift. That defeats the purpose. Either way, I think I still have the messages where he is telling me that he's giving it to me because he doesn't use it and he wanted me to have it. I don't believe that he would escalate it due to lack of money. But still, I'm going to prepare for the worse.
    – Danielle
    Jan 21 at 16:22
  • @Jen you are definitely correct and I'm aware. But if it goes that far, I will try to prepare myself. If I am to give the laptop back. I'm taking all the modifications I made to it out. That's my money that I put into it when I was told that it was going to be mine. I think he knows of this and that's why he is trying to get it back.
    – Danielle
    Jan 21 at 16:30
  • You might want to read up on the concept of "estoppel", since you relied on this being a gift and invested money in the computer.
    – user6726
    Jan 21 at 16:54
  • @user6726, I will check that out. Thank you!
    – Danielle
    Jan 21 at 17:08

2 Answers 2


This criminal law attorney says

What Does Possession is 9/10 of the Law Mean?

The phrase essentially means that when you physically possess something you have a stronger legal claim to it than someone who just claims ownership of it. Another way to say this is that custody presumes ownership.

It seems strange to have to prove something was a gift, which typically has no conditions attached. If an item of value is loaned, it would be reasonable to expect there to be some kind of agreement as to the time span, who is responsible for repairs, theft etc. and both parties would have a record of this.

Having maintained and upgraded the computer, that would seem to give a strong claim to it.

In a comment OP says they might have a record of messages which verify the gift, which makes the case even stronger.


A gift is irrevocable

Once he gave it to you, he doesn’t own it anymore. A gift requires three things: intent be the giver to gift the item, acceptance by the recipient, transfer of the item. Once done it can’t be undone.

  • 1
    Yes, but was it a gift?
    – Greendrake
    Jan 21 at 13:24
  • That's what I thought.. thank you for your input.
    – Danielle
    Jan 21 at 13:36
  • Yes, but if he has a receipt and claims it was loaned then it becomes her word against his. Jan 21 at 17:00
  • @MichaelHall, but he doesn't have the receipt or anything for the laptop anymore. He didn't say anything about it being loaned until today.
    – Danielle
    Jan 21 at 17:11
  • Well, then, as another answer points out, possession is 9/10ths of the law. It sounds like he doesn't have a valid claim. I presume he doesn't have a key or other way to attempt to repossess it? Jan 21 at 17:29

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