Brief Fact Summary. After leaving her job, a lady cared for an elderly couple for over 30 years. An instrument was executed by the elderly husband granting the caretaker a substantial amount of money, the consideration being the assistance the caretaker provided in the past.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. "[M]ere inadequacy [of consideration] does not amount to a failure or partial failure of consideration."
Issue. Does consideration being inadequate, amount to a failure of consideration when one promises to pay another for services rendered?
Held. No, there was "consideration of inestimable value for the execution of the note, and it was in no sense a gift." The court first recognized that the agreement was invalid, but that it showed the Respondent "should be paid and well paid." This attention was again manifest by the wills that were executed, but lost. Both these proofs tend to show that the Respondent's services were not meant to be gratuitous. The court also observes that the Respondent was to be compensated more generously than her services were worth. However, only Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson could have known and appreciated the actual value of the Respondent's services and they had every right to over pay for her services.
• As such, "where there was no element of fraud or misrepresentation, the value of the services may be measured by the wants of the persons benefited." "The utmost that can be fairly claimed is that the consideration for the note was inadequate. But under such facts as here exist mere inadequacy does not amount to a failure or partial failure of consideration." Further, "[t]here is abundant authority for the rule that, when the value of services is indefinite or indeterminate, or largely a matter of opinion, the courts will not substitute their judgments for that of the contracting parties."
Discussion. Generally, courts treat past consideration as no consideration at all, however, not here. The majority of this agreement was based on passed consideration, because the $30,000 was for services provided during the past 30 years.