Q: My brother and I own a pasture. He has been renting it out without my signature for 7 years.
He and his wife (whose name is not attached to the land) have been drafting and signing lease agreements for seven years. I have never seen these agreements. My brother and his wife handle every aspect of the land and finances. I receive $500/year, which he claims are the only profits. I'm scared my brother is embezzling from me. I don't know what to do about the illegal contracts, either. I'm also afraid of tax/income liability if he has been embezzling, as I am a disabled single mother with a fixed income.
A: You can hire a NE attorney to sue for contribution for what you have some proof is owing as a tenant in common. An accounting might be possible. But if nothing else, an action for a Sale For Partition can be filed. You should have the title searched first to be sure of your exact ownership.
You should consider taking the following steps to address your concerns:
Review Documents: Request copies of all lease agreements and financial records related to the pasture from your brother. Insist on transparency and access to all relevant paperwork.
Consult an Attorney: Seek legal counsel, given your background as an attorney. They can help you understand your rights and options in this situation. They can also guide you on whether these contracts are legally valid.
Investigate Embezzlement: If you suspect embezzlement, your attorney can help you investigate and gather evidence. This might involve reviewing financial records, bank statements, and any other relevant documentation.
Tax Implications: Discuss the potential tax consequences with your attorney. They can advise you on how to handle any income or tax liability issues that may arise from this situation.
Mediation or Legal Action: Depending on your findings, you can consider mediation with your brother or taking legal action if necessary to protect your interests and rights.
Future Management: Determine how you want to manage the pasture going forward. You may need to establish clear roles and responsibilities for both you and your brother, ensuring your interests are protected.
Protect Your Finances: While addressing these issues, take steps to secure your financial well-being and ensure that you receive a fair share of the profits from the pasture.
Family Communication: Try to maintain open and honest communication with your brother throughout this process to reach a resolution that is fair to both parties.
Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all communications, agreements, and actions taken to protect your interests.
Stay Informed: Stay informed about relevant laws and regulations in your state, as they may impact your legal rights and options.
Remember that seeking legal advice is crucial in this situation, and consulting with an attorney will help you navigate the complex legal aspects of your case.
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