Scott v. First National Bank of Baltimore
224 Md. 462, 168 A.2d 349 (1961)
Wilmer Scott decided to leave
his wife and child. As part of the separation agreement, in return for
not paying child support, he assigned under seal to his daughter Virginia
one half of his expectancy in his
In return, the Virginia gave
$1 as consideration to make it a
There were other monetary
considerations as part of the divorce.
Wilmer never paid most of
them, the deadbeat.
Years later, Wilmer's father
died intestate, and the
administrator (Bank of Baltimore) filed an interpleader action to see who
the money should go to.
There was a question as to
whether an expectancy could be
The expectancy was not a set amount. There was a reasonable
chance that Wilmer's father could have died with no money, or he could
have left the money to someone who wasn't Wilbur.
The Trial Court found that the
contract was valid and that the money should go to the daughter.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
Assignments of expectancies are legal as consideration of a contract.
However, $1 is nominal
consideration and does not make for a valid, enforceable contract.
However, the Appellate Court
found that the real consideration was Wilbur's wife agreeing to taking on
the parenting responsibilities and costs after he left. The divorce
settlement would have been different if the assignment was not a part of
the negotiations. That counts as consideration, so the contract is
Different States have ruled
differently as to whether expectancies
can be assigned.
Some States refuse because
it encourages poor people to sell their inheritance to scammers.
Other States will allow
assignments, but only as part of valid contracts, you cannot make a gift
of an expectancy.