Can we sue my father-in-law’s former girlfriend for the condo that he bought her if he did it under duress?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can we sue my father-in-law’s former girlfriend for the condo that he bought her if he did it under duress?

My FIL bought his girlfriend a condo with only her name on the title. The realtor had a lawyer in the room to talk him out of doing it this way. When my FIL wavered, the girlfriend threatened to leave him if he didn’t buy her the condo, so he did He recently passed away. Can we sure the girlfriend for the condo? He did it under duress, the threat of her leaving him. It was her way to get him to do

anythinig she wanted. The lawyer is willing to testify to what he saw. The back story to this is the property he sold to afford the condo was my wife’s birth right. The property originally belonged to her mother and I realize that it became his property when her mother passed away but were hoping to get something back.

Asked on April 16, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Rhode Island


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't sue her for the condo. What you describe is not "duress" in the law--it was a legal threat, since she has the right to leave him if she did not get what she wanted. Duress for purposes of undoing the transaction (so you could, for example, inherit) is based on illegal threats, like of violence or blackmail. But as unethical as it may be, there is nothing illegal about saying "buy me a condo or we're through," and since it was legal, there is nothing you can do about it. Your FIL made the mistake of being involved with a selfish, mercenary, materialistic person--but many people make that mistake, and it is their mistake to make.

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