If facts were misreperesented regarding the signing of a contract, is the contract still valid?

UPDATED: Oct 8, 2014

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If facts were misreperesented regarding the signing of a contract, is the contract still valid?

About 2 years ago my grandfather died and we 3 grandchildren were listed heirs. As my brother had passed away at the age of 17, my mother said she was owed legally his 1/3. She told my sister and myself to sign a contract giving her a 1/3 because she was rightfully due his portion. We sisters agreed, signed, only for the next day after mom received the contract to admit she wasn’t legally an heir for his estate. My sister said to let it be and that the contract wasn’t valid because she lied to get us to sign. The estate money was just deposited into my account now, and my mom is now threatening to sue if we don’t give her her 1/3. All the contract says is that we divide it into 1/3rds. Is this still valid?

Asked on October 8, 2014 under Estate Planning, New York


Anne Brady / Law Office of Anne Brady

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The contract is not valid because there is no "consideration" for you and your sister for giving your mom 1/3 of the estate.  Since you brother predeceased your grandfather, you mother inherited only what he owned when he died at age 17.  Dead people do not inherit anything.  You could, out of a sense of fairness, decide to give a third to your mother, but it you do not, she can not enforce the contract.  It is nothing but a non-enforceable promise to do something.  To be a contract, your mother would have had to have also signed, as well as promised to give you something or do something for you and your sister in return.

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