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Contracts Keyed to Knapp
Dohrmann v. Swaney
Citation:Illinois Appellate Court 14 N.E.3d 605 (2014)
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Mrs. Rogers was an elderly widow that had no children or immediate family. Dorhmann was a married neurosurgeon with two sons. Dohrmann and Mrs. Rogers lived in the same apartment building in Chicago and served together on its board. Dohrmann first met Mrs. Rogers in 1984 and the pair began to socialize more in the 1990s. In 1997 or 1998, Dohrmann approached Mrs. Rogers about adult adoption. Dohrmann continued to pursue the possibility and even rented an apartment in Arkansas, where adult adoption is legal, and met with an adoption attorney. The attorney sent an engagement letter to Mrs. Rogers for her signature that was never returned. In February 2000, Dohrmann met with an estate planning attorney in Chicago to inquire about receiving something in exchange for something after a person had died. The attorney drafted a skeleton agreement for Dohrmann’s use. On April 1, 2000, Dohrmann and Mrs. Rogers signed a contract in which Mrs. Rogers agreed to give her apartment and its contents to Dohrmann upon her death plus $4 million dollars ($5.5 million in total assets). Mrs. Rogers further agreed to incorporate the contract into her Will. In exchange, Dohrmann agreed to incorporate “Rogers” into his sons’ names. There were no witnesses to the signing, and Mrs. Rogers did not advise her attorney, Swaney, about the contract’s existence nor did she incorporate it into her Will. On June 22, 2000, Dohrmann added “Rogers” to his sons’ middle names. In November 2004, Mrs. Roger’s transferred legal ownership of her apartment to her Trust and in March 2008, Swaney was appointed guardian of Mrs. Roger’s estate due to her ongoing health issues with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
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