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Do I have any recourse to an agreement that was reneged on…

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Do I have any recourse...
Do I have any recourse to an agreement that was reneged on?
Back story: Father died without will. I am entitled to 1/2 of his property as a pre-spouse child. Father had 1/4 interest in family cabin/land that he inherited 20 years ago from my Grandparents. Step-mother told Uncle (who owns 1/4 also) she would give/sign over her share to me. I have a letter from her attorney stating that her intention is to sign this over to me. I have emails stating her intention of signing over her interest to me. PR of estate went so far as to draft a transfer of deed for said property. Now we are filing inventory for the estate and she is reneging on the agreement, stating "I didn't know it was worth so much" She wants me to purchase her share.
Is this a breach of contract? Good faith? Anything? We reside in the state of Wisconsin.
Thank you in advance!
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 4 minutes by:
6/28/2010
Lawyer: C.Fortunato, Attorney replied 8 years ago
C.Fortunato
C.Fortunato, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 8,023
Experience: Admitted NYS Bar, member ABA, NYSBA, NYCBA, QCBA, Licensed Real Estate Broker
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Hi JACustomer,
Did you give your step-mother anything at all in return for her promise to give the property to you? Did you do anything in anticipation of being given the property?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

I did not give her anything persay - she is being uncooperative and will not allow anyone in her home to inventory and appraise items, so what we did was make an offer to settle without doing inventory. We asked for some of his personal property - family photos, gifts we gave him, deer mounts, guns, and a few of our Grandparents items. The cabin was offered to us in October/November and was part of our entire agreement which we were trying to settle now. She asked her attorney to draft something on Friday and we are supposed to hear back today...

 

The only thing we did was draft the transfer of deed paperwork. (besides gathering tax documents, legal description, etc.)

 

Cabin is literally a hunting shack on 80 acres (no running water, an outhouse, all woods). Land is locked, cannot be divided or sold and technically there is no access to the majority of the land.

 

My Father was killed - so now she has money from wrongful death to make this difficult on me.

Lawyer: C.Fortunato, Attorney replied 8 years ago
The problem with this promise to transfer the property is that promises are not enforceable, unless the recipient gave something in return for the gift or did something costly in anticipation of the gift.
In other words, simple promises are not enforceable. This means that even though she promised she would give her share to you, she does not have to.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

What about the fact that we have agreed to let her keep all of the other personal property (including vehicles) and marital property (which we're entitled to 1/2) in exchange for items we asked for and cabin interest? (I forgot to add that when I replied to what we gave her)

 

Do attorney fees count for something costly? I had to pay my attorney to draft transfer and locate/obtain orginal deed/tax doc/legal desc./etc.

Lawyer: C.Fortunato, Attorney replied 8 years ago
Yes - that changes everything. The fact that you allowed to keep the other property would be considered to be giving her something in exchange for the promise to give you the property. If she now refuses to give you the property, you can sue her for "Breach of Contract". Perhaps if you explain this to her, she will just give you the property, to avoid having to go to court.

Edited by Christina Fortunato, Esq. on 6/28/2010 at 3:43 PM EST
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Thank you.

I'm looking through my emails now. I have one from 3/17 where her attorney states : "Marsha has agreed to waive her right to any interest in the Boulder Junction real estate"

Our attorney says: Upon receipt of an e-mail from you which states "Marsha agrees to the clarification terms in your e-mail below", then my clients will agree to the proposal.

And her attorney responded "Agreed" followed by the exact verbage our attorney requested.

That is good, right?

Oh, and what we drafted was an Assignment of Certain Real Estate Interest. Which was prompted by the 3/17 email.

Thanks again for your help!

Lawyer: C.Fortunato, Attorney replied 8 years ago
Where is the indication that she accepted the personal property in exchange for the promise to give you the Boulder Junction property?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Everything was left open after that in regards XXXXX XXXXX personal property (at her request) - because there was an auction for the farm and then a sale of farm property.

The past month we have been working on the rest of the personal property.

On 6/15 her attorney sent an email saying that she agreed to everything - cabin was not specifically mentioned.

On June 18th, the PR sent an email stating that he needed an answer by noon on 6/21 that states that we agree to everything and waive rights to the rest of the personal property - nothing specifically spelled out. So, I drafted an email listing specific items and the PR said he was floored when she came back and said she changed her mind on the cabin. At that point the PR said the deal was off and we would get a court order to access her house to do inventory. I offered to close on everything else and leave the cabin as an open issue - because I wanted to look into this as I am today.

Anyway, as of 6/25, we are waiting for her attorney to once again agree to the personal property - minus the cabin, based on how I want to proceed.

Sorry that this simple question has become so involved...

Lawyer: C.Fortunato, Attorney replied 8 years ago
If she agreed in writing - and signed the agreement - to exchange the real property for the personal property, then you have a binding, enforceable agreement.
You also have a binding agreement if she already took or received the personal property in exchange for the real estate.
If neither of these happened, there is no enforceable agreement.
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