Braselton, GA asked in Probate and Tax Law for Georgia

Q: I have a litigation question. Almost three decades ago, my father lost everything he owned and didn't own due to unknown

reasons to this day; including an inheritance worth millions of dollars. Therefore, he owed the IRS a numerous amount of money. He ended up in the hospital and was treated for a financial breakdown. Moving forward, a few years later, he and my brother (who was only 18 years old at the time) started a business together. Due to my father owing taxes, my father put the business in my brothers name. My father has been in the car and cattle business all his life. He taught my brother the ropes to the automotive industry. Now, 25 years later, everything still stands as it did in the beginning with my brother only being the owner, on paper. All to avoid paying taxes. My father on paper only draws a social security check of $800.00 per month that he gives his ex-wife (my mother) to live on. It's very obvious that my dad lives an extravagant life-style. Of course, my brother now thinks he is God. My legal question is do I have a leg to stand on if something were to happen to my father?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Michael D. Birchmore
Michael D. Birchmore
  • Lawrenceville, GA
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: I hope that my colleagues who practice probate law will also answer your question as probate law is not my practice area of law. That said, however, not much in your description of facts makes sense when even basic legal principles are applied. I am not sure how taxes are avoided simply because the auto dealership is your brother's name. Regardless of who owns it, businesses do pay taxes. Also, the taxes owed by your dad when he transferred the business to your brother likely stayed/followed the business. Your dad's avoidance of taxes does not mean that taxes were avoided. Also, auto dealerships, and most businesses for that matter, are generally incorporated or placed as some other business entity such as an LLC. It is highly doubtful your brother's name would be seen publicly as the "owner." My best suggestion would be that you meet with a local business attorney and have the discussion you are trying to have here online with the local attorney who can ask specific questions and provide you with better information.

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