The basic requirements of a contract are an offer, acceptance, and consideration. The determination of whether consideration is sufficient to support a contract is a question of law for the court to decide. Valuable consideration for a contract consists of some right, interest, profit or benefit accruing to one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or responsibility given, suffered or undertaken by the other. Any act or promise that benefits one party or disadvantages the other is sufficient consideration to support the formation of a contract. Whether a contract contains consideration is a question of law, which is reviewed de novo. Where the amount of consideration is so grossly inadequate as to shock the conscience of the court, the contract will fail.
A widow and her neighbor entered into an agreement, which provided that the widow would convey to plaintiff upon her death her apartment, its contents and $4 million in consideration of his past and future services and by continuing the widow’s name by incorporating her last name in the names of his children. The neighbor did make the widows name an additional middle name to the names of his sons. Upon the widows death, the neighbor sought the enforcement of the agreement, The court, however, granted summary judgment in favor of the estate executor. The case was appealed to the Appellate Court of Illinois.
Where one parties detriment was minimal, and the other's valuable, was the agreement valid as a contract supported by adequate consideration?
The Court held that circumstances existing when the contract was entered into were such that the terms of the contract should be set aside because the estate sufficiently showed that the contract should be considered void due to the grossly inadequate consideration provided the decedent from the neighbor, as well as the unfair circumstances surrounding the contract's creation.