A famous taqueria in San Francisco just went up on the market for a forced sale.  Why?  Because the family members got into a squabble about who owned the building.

A not necessarily accurate synopsis looks like this:

“Brother 1” (of 5 or 6 siblings) “bought” the building in the 1970s.  But, back then, he had lender troubles or whatever, so “Mom and Dad” took title and “borrowed” the money.  Brother 1 made all the payments, made the down-payment, paid all the taxes, etc., etc., oh, AND ran the business out of the building — creating a terrific reputation for the taqueria.

40 YEARS later Mom and Dad died.  Leaving no will.  And, of course, there was no “paperwork” evidencing the deal (i.e. that Mom and Dad were mere ‘nominal owners’ and that Brother 1 was the true owner).

What happens next is (sadly) typical.  Since there is no will, the property has to go through probate – for each parent.  Brothers 2 and 3 transfer their “inheritance” to Brother 1 – after all, it was “his” building and business.  Ah, but Brother 4 and Sisters 5 and 6 … well, they say – not so fast.

This property, they claim, was part of Mom and Dad’s estate and they (the siblings) are ENTITLED to their “share” of the value of the building.  (Isn’t it amazing how a pre-teen’s complaint that “You got more Christmas presents than I did in 1982…” can come back to life when everyone is “grown up.”)

WTH, says Brother 1.  (Or words to that effect.)  A lawsuit ensues.  Brother 1 – loses.  (He is apparently suing his lawyer for malpractice with regard to that loss.)

And now, Sisters and Brother are smacking their lips to get a chunk of money from the sale of the property.

The moral?

NEVER do business with “family” or “friends”  — and if you violate that Rule, be sure, No. Matter. What. – to get “the deal” in writing.