When the value of services is indefinite or indeterminate or largely a matter of opinion, the courts will not substitute their judgments for that of the contracting parties.
In a probate proceeding, the respondent claimant filed an action against an estate based upon a written instrument that stated that if the respondent cared for the decedent and his wife until their death, she would receive the decedents' property. Appellants, the administrator and next of kin, opposed the claim on the grounds that the instrument was not properly delivered, there was no sufficient consideration for it, and it was testamentary in character but not properly attested to take effect as a will. The trial court found that the instrument was a non-negotiable promissory note for good and sufficient consideration and awarded claimant $ 30,000 for the services she performed. On appeal, the state supreme court affirmed the judgment.
Could appellant administrator and next of kin present parol evidence of the reasonable value of the services rendered by respondent claimant?
The decedent realized the worth of caring for him and his wife and desired to make a liberal compensation to respondent claimant, which he had a right to do. There was no evidence of fraud or misrepresentation. The note was delivered to and accepted by respondent, and she could not be heard to claim that more than the amount specified was due her, and appellants had no better right to question the adequacy of the consideration.