This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
If the offer is not under seal and not upon a valuable consideration, the death of the offeror before acceptance, ends such offer;1 and so does his insanity.2 So a guaranty of future obligations which is in the nature of a continuing offer is revoked by the death of the guarantor as to liabilities incurred thereafter.3
If the offer is, for a valuable consideration, to remain open for a certain time, the offeror can not revoke it,4 and so it has been held that his death does not cause it to lapse.5 An option in a lease which is one of the considerations for the covenant to pay rent, does not lapse with the death of the offeror.6 A subscription made in consideration of other subscriptions is held to be an offer for value and not to lapse with the death of the offeror.7 If A promises to pay ten thousand dollars to an endowment fund for a college, to be paid when two hundred thousand dollars is raised, and in reliance upon A's promise, B and C subscribe fourteen thousand dollars, such subscription is said to make A's offer one which was based on valuable consideration; and accordingly it did not lapse at A's death.8 Some of the cases reach the opposite result, holding that A does not, by implication, promise not to withdraw his offer in consideration of B's subscription; and that, accordingly, B's subscription does not make A's offer one which is upon a valuable consideration.9
11 Sizer v. Clark, 116 Wis. 534, 93 N. W. 539.
1 California. Grand Lodge, etc. v. Farnham, 70 Cal. 158, 11 Ac. 592.
Colorado. Riner v. Husted, 13 Colo. App. 523, 58 Ac. 793.
Illinois. Pratt v. Baptist Society, 93 111. 475, 34 Am. Rep. 187.
Kentucky. Aitken v. Lang,106 Ky. 652, 90 Am. St. Rep. 263, 51 S. W. 154.
Louisiana. Union Sawmill Co. v. Mitchell, 122 La. 900, 48 So. 317.
New York. Presbyterian Church v. Cooper, 112 N. Y. 517, 8 Am. St. Rep. 767, 20 N. E. 352 [sub nomine, First Presbyterian Church v. Cooper, 3 L. R. A. 468]; Twenty-third, etc., Church v. Cornell, 117 N. Y. 601, 6 L. R. A. 807, 23 N. E. 177.
Ohio. Wallace v. Townsend, 43 O. S. 537, 54 Am. Rep. 829, 3 N. E. 601.
Pennsylvania. Phipps v. Jones, 20 Pa. St. 260, 59 Am. Dec. 708; Helfen-stein's Estate, 77 Pa. St. 328, 18 Am. Rep. 449.
Tennessee. Foust v. Board, 76 Tenn. (8 Lea.) 552.
2 Beach v. Church, 96 111. 177; School District v. Sheidley, 138 Mb. 672, 60 Am. St. Rep. 576, 37 L. R. A. 406, 40 S. W. 656.
3 Aitken v. Lang, 106 Ky. 652, 90 Am. St. Rep. 263, 51 S. W. 154.
4 See Sec. 122.
5 United States. Prince v. Robinson, 14 Fed. 631.
Illinois. Adams v. Peabody Coal Co., 230 111. 469, 82 N. E. 645.
Michigan. Gustin v. Union School District, 94 Mich. 502, 34 Am. St. Rep. 361, 54 N. W. 156; Waters v. Union Trust Co., 129 Mich. 640, 89 N. W. 687.
Pennsylvania. Converse's Estate, 240 Pa. St. 458, 87 Atl. 849.
Wisconsin. Mueller v. Nortmann, 116 Wis. 468, 96 Am. St. Rep. 997, 93 N. W. 538.
6 Gustin v. Union School District, 94 Mich. 502, 34 Am. St. Rep. 361, 54 N. W. 156.
7 Waters v. Union Trust Co., 129 Mich. 640, 89 N. W. 687.
If the offer is under seal, the death of the offeror does not cause a lapse.10 It is generally assumed that an offer for value and an offer under seal will each survive the death of the offeror; and the question which is most frequently discussed by the courts in this connection, arises when such offer is accepted after the death of the offeror, and involves the question whether the purchase money is to be paid to the personal representatives of the offeror or to his heirs. This is a particular form of the general question of the retroactive effect of the acceptance.11