The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 June 2005

Dead man (not) spending

In the summer of 2001, Raymond Young — he was the "Y" in TG&Y — signed a donor letter of intent for the YMCA's local campaign, pledging $1 million over five years, to begin when construction began on a new southside Y.

Construction began on the Earlywine Park YMCA at SW 119th and May last October, but Young's estate balked at forking over the first $200k installment:

Michael Hovastak, the attorney representing Young's estate, said the letter of intent that Young signed is not binding and no plan exists to donate $1 million to the YMCA. Hovastak said a letter of intent is a statement for future intent.

"The letter of intent says payment begins when construction begins," Hovastak said. "Of course, Mr. Young died two years prior to any construction. Under the law, dead people cannot enter into contracts, so the letter of intent basically died with him."

Which was 23 March 2002.

Attorneys for the YMCA have filed a petition in Oklahoma County District Court asking for a ruling.

Posted at 7:32 AM to City Scene


I think the key sentence in the Oklahoman article was: "Hovastak said the heirs to Young's fortune simply don't see a need to comply with the letter of intent." ... it's too bad they aren't as nice as Mr. Young ...... I once received an add on scholarship to my college education and he sat on the decision board. Nice fellow and very interested in the well being of OKC and its citizens, especially youth.

Greedy relatives ... rich or poor ... they always come out of the woodwork like roaches.

Posted by: Ron at 8:14 AM on 20 June 2005

I'd be interested to see how the courts will rule on this -- is a letter of intent sufficient to constitute a contract of sorts in itself?

A dead man's estate is bound by contracts into which he entered in life, even if payment on said contract isn't slated to begin until a time that turns out to be after the party's death. So this will be the question the court has to answer.

My layman's view would be that a letter of intent probably doesn't have sufficient weight to constitute a contract, and that the YMCA will not prevail. But lawyers and judges have been known to surprise me.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:11 AM on 20 June 2005