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Judges hold option to buy real estate valid

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The purchaser of real estate through an option executed years earlier didn’t make the option unenforceable against the owner’s estate by not tendering the purchase price when exercising his option to buy the land, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded today.

The issue arose in Estate of Jane H. Collins v. T. William McKinney, No. 02A05-1004-EU-286, in which T. William McKinney had an option from 1990 with Jane and Robert Collins to purchase real estate from them on which there was a car dealership. McKinney had to deliver written notice of his intent to exercise the option to the personal representative of the estate within 90 days of the death of the last to die of Robert and Jane.

Jane died last, and upon learning this, McKinney sought to exercise the option by sending a letter to Ray Collins, the personal representative of Jane’s estate. The option didn’t include the purchase price. Ray never responded to McKinney and later claimed after McKinney filed suit that the lack of offering the purchase price made the option unenforceable.

McKinney filed a verified petition for specific performance to require the estate to sell the property. The trial court granted him summary judgment, ordered the estate to close the sale, and later awarded damages and attorney’s fees to McKinney.

The estate correctly argued on appeal that no rule has been mentioned in Indiana directly on the question of whether an option is binding only upon tender of performance, wrote Judge L. Mark Bailey. But Indiana law doesn’t require a tender of performance before an optionor is in default and specific cases in Indiana undercut the estate’s reliance on cases from other jurisdictions.

The judges citied Wolvos v. Meyer, 668 N.E.2d 671 (Ind. 1996), to affirm that proper notice is all that was required to exercise the option and McKinney gave proper notice to Ray.

The Court of Appeals also affirmed that McKinney could be awarded damages even though the court awarded specific performance, but they remanded for a recalculation of the amount McKinney is entitled to. The court also vacated the amount of attorney’s fees awarded to McKinney and remanded for the trial court to determine the amount of fees related to McKinney’s efforts to close on the property.

The judges affirmed the trial court in all other respects.

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  1. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

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  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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