APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Monroe County; the Hon. DAVID
W. COSTELLO, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE KARNS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiff, Nelson Werling, brought this action in the Circuit Court of Monroe County seeking specific performance of an alleged oral contract for the sale of land previously owned by Julia Crocker Horine, deceased, or seeking, in the alternative, a ruling that he is entitled to the property under the decedent's last will and testament. From a judgment in favor of the co-executors of the estate of Julia Crocker Horine, plaintiff appeals.
In his complaint, plaintiff alleged that he and decedent entered into an oral contract in 1973 for the sale of her farm in Monroe County to plaintiff for a purchase price of $20,000. At trial, it was established that plaintiff had been farming the land in question on shares from 1950 until the present. Ms. Horine, who apparently lived on a small portion of the farm until her death in the fall of 1976, had become rather dependent upon Mr. Werling in her later years. Whenever there were problems with the household or land, Mr. Werling would take it upon himself to do all the necessary repairs. His wife did Ms. Horine's shopping and laundry and brought her food when she injured her leg.
Ms. Horine died, leaving a will which was admitted to probate and which contained the following provision:
"Fifteenth Having by agreement and deed sold my farm home property to Nelson Werling for the sum of Twenty Thousand Dollars it is my will that any balance that may be due to me at my death shall be paid by said Nelson Werling to the Lighthouse for the Blind now located at 2321 Locust Street, St. Louis, Missouri * * *."
The estate inventory listed only the property which is the subject of this lawsuit, and it was stipulated at trial that Ms. Horine owned only one farm.
C.B. Morrison, the attorney who prepared the will in 1975, testified by deposition that paragraph 15 was added at Ms. Horine's request. When counsel for plaintiff sought to admit into evidence the attorney's testimony concerning what decedent had told him about a real estate agreement, defendant objected. The trial court sustained the objection on the grounds of hearsay but permitted the following offer of proof:
"Q. Did she tell you that she had an agreement and deed to sell her farm to Nelson Werling for $20,000.00?
Q. Did she then instruct you as to what was to be done with the balance due from Mr. Werling if it had not been paid at the time of her death?
Mr. Morrison also testified that he did not remember preparing a deed for the conveyance of the farm.
Earl Parrin, an employee of plaintiff from 1965 to 1969, testified that he visited Ms. Horine in August of 1974 to ask her whether she would be interested in selling "a piece of ground out there." When the trial court thereafter sustained defendant's objection to and refused to admit Mr. Parrin's testimony concerning what Ms. Horine had then told him, counsel for plaintiff made another offer of proof:
"Q. What did she tell you?
A. She told me she made previous arrangements to sell the property to Nelson Werling."
On cross-examination, however, defense counsel chose to ask Mr. Parrin about the alleged ...