Discussion Forum

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Questions answered by Joseph Centrich:

Q: Do I have any legal rights if I only had verbal agreements to a business I was in w/ a friend? My friend has a trucking business which was not doing well and asked if I wanted to buy in 50/50 around one year ago. I did and then business started picking up and he decided to buy me out. This was over 4 months ago and he still owes me 40% of my buy-out amount. He keeps pushing it out and now says he has to make it to me in small payments. do I have any legal rights since there was no contract w/in us?

A: Joseph’s answer: You really should have contacted an attorney BEFORE you entered into a partnership. You also should have consulted an attorney when he purchased your partnership interest. These are important business transactions which, if properly structured, would protect your interest in circumstances exactly as you describe. 

In Texas you will have a number of potential claims to attempt to recover your investment. While it would be better to have a partnership agreement which fully details your rights and remedies, you still have a claim based on the facts given. Whether it is worth pursuing given the amount outstanding will be a financial decision for you. Yet another benefit of having the aforementioned transactions reduced to writing would have been the availability to recover attorneys fees, which is permitted in Texas on breach of a written contract. 

You should contact an attorney to fully discuss your situation. A message board is not the best place to get advice on these types of fact specific situations.


Q: I am an officer for the corporation I work for, but I do not have any ownership. Would I be responsible for company debts?: The company is past due with the IRS payroll tax in addition to several suppliers.

A: Joseph’s answer: As others have noted, you need to contact an attorney. This is likely the worst tax for an employer to fail to pay. 

Given your role in the company as an officer (and if you have any of an assortment of responsibility with the company, including check writing authority, financial control, decision making, etc.) you could be classified as a "responsible party" by the IRS. Under section 6672 of the Code, the IRS would have to show that you were "willful" in not making the payments for liability to attach to you personally. If such a finding was made, you would personally responsible for the trust fund portion of those taxes. At that point, the Service could place liens on your property to collect the outstanding balance.


Q: My question is, my father died recently and he left me his house but he owed 2 more payments on it and i have an agreement with: the owner to give him the remaining 2 payments, but now he is adding on his lawyer fees that he acquired himself and making me pay them. Is that even legal for him to do that? the house is in Arkansas

A: Joseph’s answer: There really isn't enough information provided here to give a good response.  

You stated your father "left [you] his house" but didn't state how. Did he leave it to you in a will, or did he die intestate (without a will)? You stated he died recently, which leads me to believe that his will (if he has one) has probably not been probated yet. If that is the case the estate would own the house until such time as the will is probated.  

This is further complicated by you stating that the "owner" has made an arrangement with you to pay the final two payments. Was your father the owner, subject to a deed of trust (or mortgage)? Or was this some type of lease to own arrangement? Your father cannot leave you something he doesn't own. 

There must be more information as to why the owner is trying to pass on the attorney's fees to you. Is there some other dispute that he is trying to settle? 

I would recommend getting an attorney. Since this involves both real property and administering the will (or trust) in Arkansas it would need to be someone in that location.  

Good luck.

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 Questions answered by Steven J. Clausen:

Q: Item was sold before death but mentioned in will; person to receive it was fired: My mother passed away this summer. Her former caregiver had previously been fired. However, the caregiver was named in the will to receive an item that was sold a few weeks before my mother's death. My mother had never changed her will. I am named as executor of the will. I have no desire to talk to this person after the mistreatment my mother received from her. She will soon receive her beneficiary notice and a copy of the will. Since the item was not owned by my mom at the time of her death, am I required to let this person know of the sale and that she will not be receiving it? Or does the responsibility fall on her to contact me if she is interested in the item, at which time I can let her know it was sold?

A: Steven’s answer: In this situation, I think it is advisable to be proactive and left the person know that the item had been sold prior to your mother's death so that she will not be expecting to receive such item. If you do not want to communicate with her, you can instruct your attorney to notify her that she will not be receiving such item.


Q: I'M A BROTHER OF THE DECEASE IN TX, SISTER LEFT NO WILL IL COURT MADE IL BRO HEAD AN A ANCILLARY PROBATE MAKE ME HEAD IN TX?: brother of the decease, resident of TX. brother in il given administrating rights, no will,and has no other family but her brothers and sisters.

A: Steven’s answer: Your facts are not clear. In which state was your sister domiciled and in which states did she own real property. In which states are probate courts exercising jurisdiction?


Q: Travis County, Texas. My wife passed away. Her son is the executor he has a probate attorney. Can I get away without having one?: My step son is listed in her will as executor of all here properties. He has a probate attorney already. The only things we bought and owned together are the furnishings in our home, 2 vehicles and our home. I've talked with probate attorneys for me but they are expensive, I'm on a very limited income. Total value of my furnishings/vehicles is probably $10,000 or less. I have about $50,000 in equity in our home. That's the extent of our estate, no stock, bonds, investments. 

Is there a reasonable way foe me to proceed without hiring a probate attorney to defend me and my assets?

A: Steven’s answer: You should hire a probate attorney to protect your interests unless Will leaves everything to you and all of the non-probate assets pass to you. Scrimp now and pay latter.

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