At what point do we need a lawyer?

Asked about 2 years ago - San Diego, CA

My mother and her brother own the home their mom left them. My uncle has gotten verbally abusive to her, to me, and threatened to kill my brother and my cat. He owns guns, and is very unpredictable. My mother wants to buy him out of his half of the house and is now getting the information from the bank about appraisal of the house and then a loan for half of that amount. I am concerned for her needing some sort of mediating party that can document properly the things he says and agrees to because up until this point every agreement they ever have is verbal and he is drunk a lot of the time and doesn't remember what he agrees to and goes back on his word often. We don't have a lot of money and this is going to be a strain financially already so we need a lawyer just when?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Thomas Anthony Schaeffer

    Contributor Level 14


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Well, when dealing with people like that it is really never too early to get a lawyer. Your mom is about to spend a lot of cash on the home and, although it might be a strain in the short term, finding a lawyer to help you now could end up saving a lot of time and money in the future.

    Hope that helped.

    Thomas A. Schaeffer, Esq. Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216, San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.... more
  2. Amanda Marie Cook

    Contributor Level 15


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Has the uncle agreed to sell his portion of the property. He can't be forced into selling his half. Does anyone live in the home? How is their ownership held (e.g. joint tenants/tenants in common)? Although I sympathize with your situation, the facts that you have provided are two very different issues. One issue is the abuse, which you can attempt to remedy by contacting authorities, possibly a restraining order, or other similar methods (that is outside my practice area). The other is the property sale which is, in its essence, just like any other property sale. You can't walk into someone's house, give them the value of the property, and say "Now it's mine" (unless you're the government. Similarly, your mother can't force her brother to sell to her. There are too many open issues to properly give advice in this forum.

    THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can... more
  3. Lawrence A Friedman

    Contributor Level 18


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . A lawyer absolutely is needed to draft a contract setting forth the sale agreement between mom and uncle but not until they reach an agreement on the material terms that need to be set forth in a contract. On the other hand, it makes a lot of sense to get a lawyer to advise on what mom should seek in negotiating the agreement.

    Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law Foundation, former Chair NJ State Bar Association Elder and Disabilities Law Section, Member Board of Consultors of NJSBA Real Property, Trusts & Estates Law Section, Vice Chair Special Needs Law Section of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation from N.Y.U. School of Law. Visit for articles and Q&A on elder law, special needs, wills, trusts, estates, and tax. Visit and subscribe for free timely updates to be delivered to your inbox. Information on both Avvo and does not constitute legal advice, as it is general in nature and may not apply to your situation or be subject to important changes. No attorney client relationship exists unless set forth in written engagement terms.

    Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law... more
  4. Joseph Bernard Mchugh Jr


    Contributor Level 13


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If the brother refuses to sell, I am afraid your mother would have to resort to petitioning the Court in a "Partition of Real Property". This would mean that the Court would require one party to buy out the other, or have the property sold. It is better to try to negotiate a buyout with your uncle. I agree that getting a real estate attorney involved now would be a good idea.

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