Estate of Hall

2002 ML 1878

 

RULE:

A promise to pay when the promissor is able is a conditional promise which condition cannot be met if to do so requires the death of the promisor. The death of an important witness is historically the primary reason for the enforcement of laches as an equitable bar to a claim because the party against whom the claim is asserted has been deprived thereby of important testimony.

FACTS:

In 2001, a son brought a creditor's claim for wages and cattle against his mother's estate for work allegedly performed more than twenty years ago pursuant to an oral employment agreement. The applicable statute of limitations for such wage claims was five years. The son, in keeping with his Creditor's Claim, argued that his claim did not accrue during his mother's lifetime due to her inability to pay and her promise to pay when able.  Furthermore, the son brought a claim for an interest in certain ranch property, which was sold by Contract for Deed in 1994.  The property has passed into the hands of third parties.

ISSUE:

Was a mother's alleged promise to pay her son wages and cattle when she was able an enforceable promise and was the son's claim to an interest in the property barred by the Statute of Frauds?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court granted summary judgment dismissing the creditor claims of a son against an estate.

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