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LegalGems
LegalGems, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 3594
Experience:  Private Practice; Elder Law Attorney; Estate Planning; Attorney Mentor
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My parents started a business over 50 years ago. They did well

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My parents started a business over 50 years ago. They did well for themselves and as a result my brother and I had a comfortable upbringing. I am a educator by trade and my brother has worked off an on for my father for years. My mom passed in 2010 and my father in 2012. Over the years my parents gave me and my family several financial gifts. Let's
say it totaled 250k. Now they gave my brother realistically close to ten times
that amount in the form of cash, real
estate. My parents would come by and
ask me if I minded if they gave my
brother some form of money or real
estate. They also told me to not worry
that things would be evened up one
day. My father came by one night and
ask if I minded if he gave my brother
250,000.00 because he was in a bind.
My father also stated that he had told
my brother that he had to even things
up with his sister one day. I never
worried about that because we were all
so close and had good sibling
relationship. When my father past I
waited for my brother to mention that
he need to even things up between us.
Well that statement never came up and
we proceeded to divide things. I really
had come to the conclusion that my dad
never made that statement to him.I
debated on whether to say anything and decided that our relationship was worth
far more than a falling out over a
dollar.That has been a year ago last
may. Now the business my parents
started still operates. My brother has
took over in my father's position. Last
week he called and wanted to have a
meeting. My brother proceeded to
explain that since he works there he
should own 51%. and myself 49. Also I
had spoke up several months ago and
explained to him that my father had
given me their home to help even things
up. Appraised at 400k. At this meeting
he was questioning why I should get
the home. I was a little shocked. At this
time I decided to ask if our father had
indeed told him that he needed to even
things up between us. His reply was YES
he did but that was in the past and
should not matter now. Now I am totally
shocked. Now I know I have no recluse
over that because the TRUST say to be
divided in equal parts. Also I realize
that I may not be able to take
ownership of their house that was
verbally given me. What I do want to
know is can he take 51% percent of
mom and Dads business and give me
49%????? we were planning on getting
an attorney to put business in our
name. I afraid if I get less than 50%
that I will be in a really bad position. I
never thought that this would happen
we have never been at odds with one
another over anything. Also my family
and I comfortable finically so I do not need this to survive and neither does my brother. But fair is fair and I would like to be able to help my children and grandchildren with proceeds of our company. The company is probably worth between 2.5 & 4 million. Please help!!!!!!I don't know really which direction to go. Is there a way he can gain 51% against my wishes????? What kind of attorney do I need????? How do I go about hiring a really good attorney????? Again I am in uncharted waters.....HELP!!!!!!!!!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 1 year ago.

LegalGems :

Hi; My goal is to provide you with great service - if you have any questions during our chat, please ask! I'll do my best to ensure your satisfaction!

LegalGems :

I am sorry to hear of this situation, as I am sure it is very distressing for you.

LegalGems :

Generally, the trust document will control how any distributions will be made. That being said, usually the heirs will try and respect the intents of the decedent, out of respect. However, that is a moral obligation; not a legal obligation. From a legal perspective, whatever the trust/will states is the controlling factor.

LegalGems :

Since this is presumably a family business, the trust in all likelihood specifies who should inherit what percentage of the business. If your brother arbitrarily feels that he is entitled to 51% of the business, but the trust does not specify this distribution, he really does not have a legal basis for this assertion.

LegalGems :

The type of attorney that would deal with this would be an estate planning attorney, preferably one experienced in litigation, in case this goes to court.

LegalGems :

Given the value of the business, it would be advisable to meet with an attorney at your earliest opportunity.

LegalGems :

Whenever you hire an attorney, it is always a wise decision to ensure that they are in good standing with the bar association (i.e. no disciplinarian action). Please see: http://www.scbar.org/PublicServices/FindaLawyer.aspx

LegalGems :

As for any verbal assurances made by your parents regarding their intended bequests; these are not of legal effect. The trust document (or will) would control how their property is to be distributed.

LegalGems :

Since the trust stated that the business is to be divided 50/50, that would be the controlling fact. Your brother probably wants to have the extra percent interest so that his say in the business would be the majority rule; however, the trust will dictate the division of the business.

Customer: Thank you so much,
LegalGems :

You are welcome. I hope you are able to resolve this with your brother without court intervention. You may want to consider mediation (a voluntary process), as that tends to be an effective way to debate/resolve legal issues while preserving family relations (as opposed to the court process).

Customer: one question .... How does one know that he or she has an experienced litigator?? Any suggestion would be appreciated.
LegalGems :

You can see from their bar profile how many years experience they have. But you can also check out www.avvo.com as this website has reviews of attorneys. Also www.lawyers.com. And you can always ask the attorney, as they cannot misrepresent their experience because that would be a violation of the professional rules of conduct.

LegalGems :

I am prohibited from giving specific referrals, but you can google "mediators", or "alternative dispute resolution" with your city and South Carolina, and locate a mediator if you would prefer that avenue.

Customer: Thanks so much ever who you are. If interested you can come to South Carolina have a sweet tea, bowl of grits and handle this for me....
LegalGems :

Thank you kindly for that offer - but we aren't allowed to gain business based on our interactions here. I wish I could take you up on the sweet tea offer, as when I was in Georgia, I was able to have a few gallons and it was amazing!

Customer: lol....thanks again we wish you well
LegalGems :

Thanks! Take care, and enjoy the rest of the holiday.

LegalGems, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 3594
Experience: Private Practice; Elder Law Attorney; Estate Planning; Attorney Mentor
LegalGems and 8 other Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  LegalGems replied 1 year ago.
I wanted to be sure and thank you for using JA/Pearl.

I hope you found the information I provided useful.

If you would like to request me for your future legal inquires, please put TO LEGAL GEMS in front of the question, and I will do my best!
Take care.

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