I do … want the ring back
Marriage is a union of two individuals. It serves as an expression of love and devotion. However, marriage also is a legal contract that binds the individuals together under the law. Whether talking about love or the law, an engagement proposal is the start of that union. Conveniently, a marriage proposal contains all the necessary elements of a contract: offer, acceptance, and consideration. One person makes an offer of marriage, the other either accepts or rejects the offer and an engagement ring is given as a means for consideration.
But, what if the marriage doesn’t happen? Or the marriage ends in divorce? What happens to the ring? When we think of gifts, we usually think of birthdays and holidays. Gifts given on those occasions are unconditional gifts. When people receive unconditional gifts, they are not required to do anything. Conditional gifts are different, though. When someone receives a conditional gift, some condition must be met before they can take complete ownership of the gift. Engagement rings are, perhaps, the best example of a conditional gift. The ring is given in exchange for a promise of marriage. Getting married is the condition that must be met in order for the person who received the ring to own it.
Under New York law, an engagement ring is considered a conditional gift. If the marriage occurs, ownership of the ring transfers to the person who is wearing it. This is true, even if the marriage later ends in divorce. Regardless of the long-term fate of the relationship, the condition to marry was met. If the marriage does not happen and the condition is not met, possession of the ring would transfer back to the person who gave it. And, this is true, regardless of who is at-fault for the failed nuptials. New York is a no-fault state, which means that courts do not take into consideration the motives or reasons that an engagement ended, only that it ended. The ring belongs legally to the person who proposed the engagement.
Regarding insurance, the proposer would purchase a standalone policy on the engagement ring, or as an endorsement on an existing renters or homeowners policy. However, after the marriage takes place, the person wearing the ring would report the ring on their own policy—but it’s likely, at that point, that there would be a renters or homeowners policy covering both people.
Are you engaged to be married? Many aspects of your insurance can change when you tie the knot—and you can even insure your new ring. Give our office a call today or visit us so we can discuss how your insurance could change when you get married.