In this article, we’ll discuss what an Implied Agreement is versus an explicit or contractual agreement, some factors the courts look at when determining the validity of an implied agreement, how whether the caregiver is related to the decedent affects claims, and what evidence is needed to overcome a presumption of gratuity.
Claims based on implied agreements have long been a thorn in the side of quick, painless litigation. Trying to prove that an agreement exists between two or more parties without a written contract can be difficult, especially in the case of a probate claim, when one member of the agreement has died. Generally, when terms are agreed upon, written down, and signed the agreement becomes an explicit contract. Also, in the absence of a document stating the specific terms, if it can be proven the two parties discussed the terms and came to an agreement, the argument can still be made for an implied contract or explicit agreement. Typically, the terms, conditions and ultimately the validity of an implied agreement will be confirmed by the actions of the parties involved. A simple example of an implied agreement might be you speak with a friend or acquaintance at length who is a home decorator, he or she suggests a number of improvements to your home and even drafts up a simple design blueprint. Under “implied by law” even though you didn’t explicitly discuss payment of the service rendered by the decorator you could still receive a bill and be required by law to pay.
Many probate claims dealing with an implied agreement for care involve two or more parties with an existing relationship, usually a relative. The timetable for the establishment of the implied agreement is often disputable and the scope of care frequently changes over time. A case can be further complicated if the parties involved were sharing the same dwelling and/or sharing living expenses. In Illinois, the courts more easily support an implied agreement claim when the parties are unrelated and often services by family members are generally presumed to be rendered without expectation of payment. Below are some examples of implied agreement claims in Illinois and their rulings.
An expressed or implied contract will typically be enough to overcome the presumption of gratuity in the eyes of the court. Some other factors relevant in reversing the presumption of gratuity include:
The important lesson to learn from this article is that it is that if you find yourself suddenly taking on caregiver duties, even for a family member, and you’re concerned about appropriate restitution now or in the future, it is best to have at the very least a simple contract written up and signed by all parties involved.
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