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Probate Claim Fails on Dead Man’s Appeal

An appeals court resolved a dispute over whether financial support from a parent qualified as repayable, citing the so-called Dead Man’s Act in turning away a claim in the case of a Cook County couple that died in a car wreck. Wayne Crawford asked the executor of his son’s estate and that of his wife for repayment of what he claimed were nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars in loans doled out over the dozen years before a drunk driver in Des Plaines took their lives. The couple and one of their children died in 2017 and Crawford and his wife presented affidavits in support for a handwritten ledger documenting the transactions. Their remaining children were placed with their maternal grandparents, with the wife’s father, Erwin Schmidt, named executor.

While Crawford also submitted bank records supporting the ledger, a district court said the absence of a written agreement on repayment rendered the claim invalid. Judges in the 1st District Appellate Court affirmed the ruling, citing the act that prevents those with material interest from inferring intent of the deceased in probate claims. In addition to agreeing with the lower court on the inadmissibility of the affadavits, they said that the son was an owner of the portion of disputed funds that were disbursed from joint accounts that bore his name.