Cincinnati, OH asked in Real Estate Law for Ohio

Q: My father and 2 brothers owned a building where they worked together their whole lives. Two died and other sold to keep

all proceeds of the sale, leaving the children of the other 2 families "out in the cold."

The building sold for almost $215,000. I believe all 3 brothers had a verbal (not a written) agreement to

equally divide the funds once the building was sold. I consulted with a real estate lawyer, and he said that

unless I could present to the Court some document specifically stating my Dad owned one-third --- that it

probably would be frivolous to file a lawsuit against the one brother. This brother kept the sale quiet for

over 3 years, and I only found out about thru County public records. The one brother who is alive is now 90

and has Parkinson's. But I feel at a loss, because I was counting on that money if I ever was in a financial difficulty

---which I am currently. The lawyer I consulted thought that the brother and his wife have probably used most of the money already, and would be hard and costly to take him to court. What recourses do I now have to address this?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Joseph Jaap
Joseph Jaap
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Licensed in Ohio

A: Just as the other attorney advised, it could be hard and costly for you to take action, and might not get anything. If the brother and his wife have no money, there is nothing for you to collect from them. If you want to hire a lawyer to assist you, use the Find a Lawyer tab to retain a local litigation attorney.

Bruce Martin Broyles
Bruce Martin Broyles
  • Lancaster, OH
  • Licensed in Ohio

A: If your father and his brothers worked together in the building, then I must assume that they operated a business. If they operated a business, then they most likely had a partnership. You do not need to have a written agreement to create a partnership.

If you are able to locate any of the old business records or tax returns you might be able to demonstrate that the Partnership existed and paid the cost of the building.

However, even assuming that the partnership existed, it most likely ceased doing business and when your father died his Estate did not make any claim to the partnership assets. Your chances of prevailing would be marginal at best.

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