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contemplation of death

n. the anticipation of death in a relatively short time due to age, illness, injury or great danger, which causes a person to make a gift, transfer property or take some other dramatic action. (Lawyers who like Latin call this causa mortis.) It can be important since such a gift or transfer can be subject to federal estate taxes.

See also: unified estate and gift tax 

The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications