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Patriarchal Family Business and Rights of Children

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Years ago when he was about 25 years old, my father came to this country from Portugal with his father, mother, two sisters, and brother. My grandfather forced all of his children, except the youngest, to work full time and turn over all of their paychecks to him for several years. He then used that money to invest in rental property. It was always agreed that someday, when my grandfather and grandmother passed away, all of the properties would be divided amongst the four children (my father included). My father, unfortunately, did not outlive his father and expired at age 50 of cancer. My grandfather, still unable to understand English, thought that his will was written in such a way that my father's 25% share of these properties would automatically go to his children (my sister and I) when he died. This was what my father and grandfather both wanted. When my grandfather eventually died two years ago, my sister and I did not contest the will (which actually was written so that only surviving children would inheirit the properties) because my two aunts and uncle promised us from the beginning that they would honor their father and my father's wishes and give 25% of the properties to my sister and I. We trusted them. Now that the probates are closed, it seems that one of my aunts has had a change of heart. I am getting the impression that she now feels my sister and I are not entitled to a full fourth of the properties. My question is this: Since my father was forced to work to earn the money that purchased those properties, and by all rights was a 1/4 owner in them even though his name was never actually on the deeds, do we, my sister and I, have any legal leg to stand on to sue for 1/4 of their value in our father's name? Or is this just another one of those harsh life lessons learned?



You know, I would like your case as a lawyer if their was a crack in the law in the state where your grandfather died. Normally all of this, as I suspect you know, must be in writing in the will, but there are some exceptions. In fact I have prevailed on cases akin to yours when I was practicing.

Do not give up all hope yet. Talk to a good aggressive local lawyer who does trial work in the state where your grandfather died. That way you know for sure. There just may be some way to undo this based on the gross injustice to your father if things stay the way things are.

First look for a lawyer & I want to know how things work out. You can find a lawyer here at Free Advice or on our site in our Find a Lawyer Directory. In an effort to best serve our users we affiliated with lawyers.com, a service of Martindale-Hubbell, a data base of 420,000 lawyers and the definitive guide to American lawyers.

E mail at [email protected] to let me know what you find out. Best of luck.

Law on, Kevin

Kevin O'Keefe
Founder & Fearless Community Leader
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