Seaver v. Ransom
Plaintiff's aunt was about to die and forgot to leave plaintiff her house in her will. Worried that she would not be able to sign another will, her husband promised her that he would leave plaintiff an equivalent amount in his will to make up for it. However, when he died, his will did not leave plaintiff anything.
Plaintiff recovered judgment in trial court, finding that equity impressed his property with a trust in favor of plaintiff.
Appellate division affirmed under the doctrine from Lawrence v. Fox.
See Also:Lawrence v. Fox
Can plaintiff enforce her uncle's promise to her aunt that benefitted her?
Generally, privity is needed to maintain an action on a contract. Exceptions are made when there is a pecuniary obligation from the promisee to the beneficiary, between close family members, and public contract cases where municipalities seek to protect its citizens.
However, this is similar to if one willed a house conditional upon the beneficiary paying another. In such a case, the third-party beneficiary would have a claim against the beneficiary of the house. American courts tend to sustain gifts in cases such as these and to allow the donee beneficiary to recover on the contract.
A donee beneficiary can recover when the promisee intends to give the beneficiary the benefit of the promised performance.
Affirmed with costs.