Will contract


Will contract

A will contract is a term used in the law of wills describing a contract to exchange a current performance for a future bequest. In such an agreement, one party (the promisee) will provide some performance in exchange for a promise by the other party (the testator, because they must draft a will) to make a specific bequest to the promisee party in the testator's will. Most jurisdictions recognize such contracts as valid, although a few hold them as void against public policy. Some jurisdictions will not recognize an oral contract for such a purpose, requiring instead that the contract be executed in writing and signed by both parties.

The general rule, where such contracts are recognized, is that the promisee can not specifically enforce the contract if the testator later revokes or supersedes the will making the promised bequest, but can only sue the testator's estate for breach of contract. This protects the testator's very strong freedom to dispose of his property however he sees fit. For example, suppose Joey agrees to execute a will bequeathing his house to Rachel in exchange for services provided by Rachel. If Joey later revokes that will, Rachel can not force Joey's estate to convey the house to her, but can only sue for the value of the house.


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