Washington Law Review




Plaintiffs, husband and wife, brought suit against decedent's estate for specific performance of an oral contract to convey or devise real property in return for personal services. An alternative claim asked for the reasonable value of services rendered and expenses paid by plaintiffs in decedent's behalf, and at his request, during the three years preceding his death. Plaintiff wife served as decedent's nurse, housekeeper and occasional provider during this period. Plaintiff husband performed various odd jobs at decedent's request. Throughout this period, plaintiffs received no compensation beyond infrequent use of decedent's lake cabin. Two witnesses testified that decedent told them that he intended to give his lake property to plaintiffs. Decedent's will, however, devised the property to a great-great-niece. At the close of plaintiffs' uncontroverted evidence, the trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss, apparently for failure to establish a prima facie case. Plaintiffs conceded a failure of proof on their claim for specific performance and appealed only the order dismissing their claim for reasonable value of services. A divided court reversed and remanded for a new trial. Held: Clear, cogent and convincing evidence that personal services which were requested and rendered with expectation of compensation is sufficient to imply, in fact, a promise to pay the reasonable value of services, even when the expected payment was a devise. Jacobs v. Brock, 66 Wash. Dec. 2d 865,406 P.2d 17 (1965).

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