If a family member borrowed roughly $10,000 from a parent but that person then died, does their parent have a legal right to receive repayment from the family member’s estate or spouse?

There was supposedly a oral agreement between the 2 that the money would be paid back in an unknown amount of time. This agreement was unwitnessed by any third party. This family member has recently passed away.

Asked on November 12, 2015 under Estate Planning, Oklahoma


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is NOT correct that 99% of the time, oral agreements are not held up in court: if the oral agreement meets all the criteria to be contract (e.g. a meeting of the minds or agreement as to the terms; an exchange of consideration, or things or promises of value), then it will more often than not be enforced.
In this case, an oral agreement to lend money in exchange for repayment of it may form a valid contract, but there also have to be definite terms to it: e.g. *when* it would be repaid. If there was not set time for repayment or circumstances triggering repayment but rather just a vague expectation that the money would be repaid "someday," then that might not be a valid contract, since there was no agreement between the parties as to a key term. Without definite, mutually agreed terms, there is no contract.

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