At time of the loan I was in Marietta, GA. He called me o/a Dec 5 in desperate need to borrow $15,000. He stated he didn't have no one else to turn to, and he'd pay me back in 90 days. At first I doubted his sincerity based on a previous loan in 1984 that he was hesitant to pay. However, I decided to lend him the money based on his desperate need and his mother's recent passing in July 2010. As of this day he hasn't made no payment towards the loan. I recently sold the house in April 2012 that his mother and I owned, and gave him his share of the proceeds in excess of $16,000. Based on his dishonesty to acknowledge the loan, I should've deducted the loan and given him the difference. I live in Coral Springs, Florida. My stepson is in Torrance, CA. Should I sue?
You can sue but it will be his word against your word since you did not document the loan.
Also, as you realize, any leverage you had was lost when you turned over money two months ago. Coincidentally, your payment to him was around the same time he promised to pay you back the $15K. He presumably now believes you have gifted him the loan -- there is no documentation and you had a chance to offset it against the house proceeds but voluntarily did not.
It is too late to turn back the clock as you recognize. You may want to consider that the 2 loans (including the 1984 loan) and sale proceeds have served as your tuition for a lesson about the perils of lending money to (and trusting) any family member, especially your stepson. More importantly, it may provide you with the nerve to turn a deaf ear to any future pleas from him. He sees you as an easy mark at this point.
You should consult with an attorney from your stepson's area who can advise you about your options. The attorney, depending on the strength of the case, may take the matter on a contingency basis so that he/she is paid only if successful. But given the amount of money you have spent on the loan, you will want to consider carefully how much more money (and energy) you want to devote to this. Consult an attorney in the Torrance area and go from there.
It's a tough call and I wish you good luck.
You would need to sue him here in California. If you lived here I would suggest filing a small claims action. However, you would need appear personally for that.
The other alternative would be to hire an attorney, but that would cost money. You also need to consider if you do sue and win. Can you collect the money?
Likely it's best to sum it up for doing a good thing for the child of your wife who passed away and leave it at that.
Jonathan Leventhal, esq.
Leventhal Law Group, P.C.
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Should you sue him? That's up to you. Can you sue him? Yes, you can. Oral agreements can be difficult to enforce. However, I assume you have evidence of the loan to him in the form of a canceled check or wire transfer, so that's a good start. I believe the current small claims limits here is 10K, so you could not recover the entire amount. However, if you have to hire a lawyer to pursue him, then 10K may not sound so bad. You would need to file and appear here, but I think you can file a small claims case on line these days.
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