How do I get money owed to me if the other party reneged on our agreement?

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How do I get money owed to me if the other party reneged on our agreement?

I made a deal with a woman to take care of her until she dies. The payment was supposed to be my getting her house upon her passing. She did not die but she got put into a nursing home by choice. I didn’t do anything wrong and kept up my part of the deal. Now she is refusing to pay me for all my time spent taking care of her. What do I do to get paid?

Asked on May 31, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to speak with an attorney. As a general rule, an agreement, even an oral or verbal one, is enforceable, and to enforce it, you would bring a legal action--i.e., sue in court.

However, there are certain agreements which commonly have to be in writing to be enforceable, and agreement which transfer real estate and agreements which take more than one year to perform are among those which commonly must be reduced to writing. This may therefore be a case where you cannot necessarily enforce the agreement, if it was oral or verbal and not in writing--and that is above and beyond the difficulty of proving the existence and terms of an oral agreement (remember: as the person suing, the burden of proof would be on you to establish the existence and terms of the deal, and that you honored it).

However, sometimes  there are other theories, such as "promissory estoppel" or "unjust enrichment" which can provide the basis for at least *some compensation," when one person expends substantial time, effort, and/or money on bahalf of another. You therefore consult with an attorney who can evaluate all the particulars of your situation, to see what, if any, grounds for compensation and/or enforcement of the deal exist.


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