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Can my sister and I sue our aunt for breaking our verbal agreement, and not returning funds that she owes us?

Winter Park, FL |

My aunt made a verbal agreement with my sister and I to support us while we attended college, at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. She remains in New Jersey. As of July 7th, 2013, she's refused to send us any money for food, living expenses, and tuition cost, which almost caused us to withdraw from school and move to Georgia with our grandmother. There's also a storage bin that she told me to get in my name, in order for us to leave our belongings in FL, while we visited NJ on school breaks, that she is refusing to send any money for, even though she told me that she'd make all the payments on it.

As for the $400+ she promised to refund, she's also refusing to pay it too. The amount of money she took from my sister, was apart of two Financial Aid checks, she received in 2012.

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Attorney answers 3


I'm having trouble understanding why you believe you have a contract with your aunt? Just because a family member agrees to support you throughout college doesn't mean you have a cognizable cause of action against her? If she was deriving a tangible benefit from you and your sister going to school, then, perhaps, you could argue their is consideration, but you simply have not provided enough information to establish a contract. So, are you saying that the only reason you went to college was because your aunt promised to pay for it? I think not. As for your sister, you have no cause of action as to money she might have lent your aunt. Whether or not she can sue her is another question all together. Good luck.



Yes, I am saying that the only reason my sister and I started going to Full Sail, was because our aunt promised to pay for our tuition and living expenses, which include food, housing, and a car. We would have never attended the school, unless we were able to afford, which is why my sister and I planned to wait until this summer to start college. But our aunt said that if we wanted to start last year, she would pay for everything. So the bottom line is, we're stuck in this situation, out here in FL, only because she promised us that it would be taken care of.


Stewart is correct in his analysis regarding consideration. There may be more to the story, of course, so maybe you could show that your aunt was expecting to receive some benefit from the arrangement, as opposed to simply promising to give you a gift.

Even if you could, however, you still have a problem with the statute of frauds. Presumably, the amount of money you were expecting from your aunt is greater than $500, right? Agreements of this sort have to be in writing.



My sister never loaned our aunt any money, it was a "Please pay this and I'll pay you back," kind of deal. My sister didn't even know that the money was taken, until her account was negative. When she confronted our aunt about it, she said that she would pay her back all of the money. The amount does not exceed $500, it's around $460 or something. The money was spent on HSN payments, Christmas gift (for multiple people), and a bill. All of these things my sister contested to, but she let it go, after she was told that she'd get back the full amount that was paid, which are aunt is now refusing to pay.


I agree with my colleagues. From the facts given it sounds like you do not have a contract with your Aunt. Speak with the school and let them know about your financial situation. Many schools will work with students so that they do not have to withdraw. Do they have any work study programs? You may also want to try reaching out to other relatives/friends to see if they might be able to assist you financially. I wish you the best.

Answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, be sure to request free written information about qualifications and experience.

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