It is not an uncommon practice for a testator to make a gift on the condition that the devisee pay to other legatees certain sums specified by the will. For example, testator devises Blackacre to A on the condition that A pay to B $500. Simple as the plan may seem at first glance, it has given rise to several complex questions regarding the legal relationship between A and B. Is A personally liable to B? If there is a personal liability, is A obligated to pay $500 even though Blackacre may have so depreciated in value that at the time of testator's death it is worth only $300? Upon what theory can such liability be imposed?
Many decisions and textwriters hold that A is personally liable to B if A accepts the gift. The views expressed in these decisions clearly indicate that the personal liability of A extends even to any deficiency between the value of the devise and the amount of the obligation. The reasoning upon which this conclusion is reached fails to evince any great degree of clarity, the opinions merely seeming to express the feeling that there ought to be such a liability, and therefore, the court will impose one, Since the use of the conditional gift device by testators is quite common, it should merit a scrutiny of the cases involving the problem.
WILLS - DEVISE OR BEQUEST ON CONDITION THAT DEVISEE PAY DEBTS OR LEGACIES,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol40/iss4/5