CanI sue my father’s second wife for a portion of his asbestos settlement that was promised to me?

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CanI sue my father’s second wife for a portion of his asbestos settlement that was promised to me?

My father remarried 13 years ago; 2 years later he died from mesothelioma. He and the woman he married verbally promised me a portion of the suit settlement. However she left the state and now I have been told that she has collected millions from several suits, with the largest in 2010. Can I sue for a portion of that money?

Asked on July 31, 2011 Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, a promise of the sort you describe--whether oral or verbal, or even written--is not generally enforceable. The law does not enforce the vast majority of promises; to be enforceable, one of the following must be the case:

1) The promise because an actual contract or agreement, with *each* side giving up or offering something (called "consideration") to secure the obligation of the other; for example, if you had loaned your father money in exchange for a portion of his settlements, that may have formed an enforceable contract.

2) In reasonable reliance on the promise, you gave up something of value, to your detriment--e.g. you relocated near your father, to help him out, in reliance on his promise to later give you of the settlement.

Without something like the above, the promise is most likely not enforceable.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, a promise of the sort you describe--whether oral or verbal, or even written--is not generally enforceable. The law does not enforce the vast majority of promises; to be enforceable, one of the following must be the case:

1) The promise because an actual contract or agreement, with *each* side giving up or offering something (called "consideration") to secure the obligation of the other; for example, if you had loaned your father money in exchange for a portion of his settlements, that may have formed an enforceable contract.

2) In reasonable reliance on the promise, you gave up something of value, to your detriment--e.g. you relocated near your father, to help him out, in reliance on his promise to later give you of the settlement.

Without something like the above, the promise is most likely not enforceable.


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