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how to write a letter to an insecure and abusive father
February 20, 2009 5:59 PM   Subscribe

How to write a brief email to a disrespectful parent who stole money to try to get it back?

Almost five years ago, I had a mental breakdown, in the course of which partly on the advice of my parents I transferred property to my father's name.

He said at the time this is still your property, it's in my name for now only for convenience.

About two years ago he met a (married!) woman half his age who got him a viagra prescription, he was adulterous with her, then she got divorced and then married my father. Then I heard about it.

I asked him if he had taken any precautions about my equity in the property, and he had not, in fact he had already sold part of it. After thirty years of basically having a civil and enjoyable relationship with the old eccentric, he betrayed me. He was the only one in my family I had any connection to, as my mother and sister are both man-hating lesbians.

Most of the property including a house is now sitting empty. He has no mortgage on the place and lives in a new house he bought for his "wife" with proceeds from selling part of my property.

It's been 18 months since I saw him (I essentially stormed out of his house in anger at his betrayal). I have no desire whatsoever to mend any relationship with him.

He refused mediation, he refused arbitration, and when I tried to get a mutual colleague to talk to him, he snubbed that, saying I should communicate with him directly. But I am not in a place where I can do that effectively. He's an insecure, p***y-wh*pp** old man who betrayed me, and I am not able to put it aside: all I would do if I talk to him is make him defensive.

The fact is that mortgage rates are very low right now and the dollar is strong. I would be willing to accept a partial robbery and write it off if he comes up with 70% of the cash now, which he could definitely do.

Feel free to tell me to just move in if you want, and I'll consider it, but what I'd very much appreciate is if you could write me one paragraph that I can just copy and paste into an email to him proposing a settlement Right Now, that doesn't seem like a "starting point for further bargaining", all without being accusative even though I have no respect for him and detest him.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Simple:

"My lawyer will be contacting you shortly."

I'm sorry, but it sounds like if he is not being reasonable at this point and doesn't see the problem with STEALING from his own flesh and blood like that, you owe him nothing.

A lawyer may cost some money, but it is worth it to see if you have any sort of legal leg to stand on. If you do, then you can write him a letter as simple as that, and let the lawyer take it from there.

But do not threaten a lawyer unless you've consulted with one first and the lawyer has indicated that you have some legal legs to stand on in this situation.

Emotions run high in these sorts of situations and people do rash and stupid things. Before you do either by continuing the discussion directly, for the love of god PLEASE CONSULT A LAWYER.

Find the biggest bulldog of a lawyer you can afford and let them go to town. There is no emotion in it for them, only motivation to win.
posted by Elminster24 at 6:10 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I doubt a personal email would accomplish anything. If you're serious about getting your property back, you should gather up all the evidence you have of what transpired (including evidence that the property used to be in your name) and have a lawyer contact him.
posted by amyms at 6:10 PM on February 20, 2009


Lawyer up.
posted by camworld at 6:16 PM on February 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Dad

I want my money. Please repay me within the next 30 days. Any further correspondence will be from my lawyer.

Your son.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:22 PM on February 20, 2009


Get a lawyer first. Do not contact him and let him know or he might transfer the property and make it more difficult to obtain it.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:22 PM on February 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


As you've described it, his behavior was not only disrespectful but larcenous, i.e., illegal. Get a lawyer. Since you're willing to settle for 70 percent, you should be able to find a family-law specialist who'll work on contingency -- again, assuming the case is as you've described.

Also, your father's spouse is not his "wife." She's his wife, legally, no scare quotes, and if you're in a community-property state, that will complicate things greatly and probably reduce what you're likely to get back.

No email will fix this. Either walk away or lawyer up.
posted by dogrose at 6:27 PM on February 20, 2009


Lawyer up, and possibly when you do, cut the insults out - it's not professional and you absolutely want to be on the up-and-up. Given the self-admitted 'mental breakdown', things like calling your mother and sister man-hating lesbians (regardless of whether they are or not) could make people - and by people I mean any lawyer your father may or may not retain - wonder if you are mentally able to manage your own property.
posted by FritoKAL at 6:28 PM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


You contact him through your lawyer. You are not helpless in this situation. You don't need to convince your father of anything. Your father isn't going to just give it back to you, he's made that clear. This is why we have a legal system, use it.

And please do not propose a settlement or contact him further on your own. Get a lawyer! If you don't have any money for a lawyer, look into legal aide services or you can always go the contingency fee route.
posted by whoaali at 6:36 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what the original transfer was about but if you were depleting your assets to qualify for public assistance then you may need to be careful. Another reason to talk to a lawyer before you push your father too hard.
posted by metahawk at 6:37 PM on February 20, 2009


If you don't have any money for a lawyer, look into legal aide services

Adult family members bickering over property is not what legal aid services are for. Don't even bother.

or you can always go the contingency fee route.

Good luck with that. No attorney worth your time would take a case like this on contingency. Perhaps you can find an attorney to write you a letter for $500, but if it's going to be litigated, be prepared to spend $20,000 and upward a case like this. It wouldn't be worth an attorney's time for anything less.
posted by jayder at 7:31 PM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jayder, you don't know how much money anonymous is talking about, nor do you know the merits of the case. Nor do you know whether legal aide would be interested in taking it, BECAUSE YOU DON"T HAVE ALL THE FACTS. Kindly refrain from offering half-cocked advice. Anon needs to consult a lawyer, and there's very little any of us can do to help him beyond that with the amount of information he's given us.
posted by Happydaz at 8:45 PM on February 20, 2009


Adult family members bickering over property is not what legal aid services are for. Don't even bother.

I have to disagree. Assuming the OP is being entirely honest about the situation (and not knowing additional facts which could change everything), she was manipulated out of her property by someone in a close relationship to her while she was in a compromised state. I've seen legal clinics take cases where people couldn't get their pimped out cars back from mechanics. I have no idea if the OP would qualify, but to say don't bother, not even knowing what her financial circumstances are is just silly and wrong. And I've seen lawyers take on contingency cases of people breaking their pinky toes. And just one pinky toe mind you and really it was more of a sprain.

Now I'm not saying the OP necessarily will be able to, but I really don't think it's appropriate to be so dismissive about possible legal options for the OP. These options aren't slam dunks, but they are definitely options which the OP should explore. IANA(barred)L and IANYL.
posted by whoaali at 8:52 PM on February 20, 2009


And on preview what Happydaz said.
posted by whoaali at 8:52 PM on February 20, 2009


Why was the property transferred to your father? Were you attempting to hide ownership of the property? Something seems totally out of whack about this.

Do you have documentation about the property transfer? Can your mental breakdown be backed up by statements from your doctors?

I feel so badly that you were bilked out of your property by your father. I can only hope you are able to prove that the property ownership is rightly yours. You are in for a tough fight. So, you should certainly talk to a lawyer and you should not let your father know you are doing that. He would very likely get rid of the property if he thought you were claiming it.
posted by JayRwv at 9:13 PM on February 20, 2009


Get a lawyer first. Do not contact him and let him know or he might transfer the property and make it more difficult to obtain it.

Yes. This what lawyers are for.
posted by LarryC at 9:44 PM on February 20, 2009


Lawyer up, and possibly when you do, cut the insults out - it's not professional and you absolutely want to be on the up-and-up. Given the self-admitted 'mental breakdown', things like calling your mother and sister man-hating lesbians (regardless of whether they are or not) could make people - and by people I mean any lawyer your father may or may not retain - wonder if you are mentally able to manage your own property.

Quoted, with emphasis, for truth. From the sounds of it, you are perfectly justified in being very angry, but the "man-hating lesbians" and "pussy-whipped old man" kind of crap doesn't do you any favors, unless you think coming off as an aggressive, misogynistic ass might help you out with a lawyer or a judge. Lawyer up and simmer down when communicating with any parties involved.
posted by scody at 12:14 AM on February 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


You're not specific about how you transferred property to your father. Was this through a deed, through power of attorney, or something else?

Other posters are correct: An email requesting the return of property you claim that you 1) ceded over to your father 2) five years ago 3) when you may have been non compos mentis, won't likely secure productive results for you.

You need to consult an attorney who can review your case and scrutinize any documents you may have signed. In most cases (IANYL, this is not legal advice), what has been agreed to in writing trumps anything witnesses may verbally claim later about their contracts.

Best possible dream scenario: Dad writes a signed, notarized letter to you: "Yes I stole your property! Yes, I sneakily tricked you to sign it away, knowing you were not sane. Bwahaha!" (But this usually only happens in TV movies)
posted by terranova at 11:45 AM on February 21, 2009


I Am Not A Lawyer but if I were, I might think that the facts show that you still own the property that's in your father's name. However I strongly urge you to get a lawyer right now and not to email your father no matter how satisfying you think it will be. Here's why:

There's a legal concept called a trust(1) in which one person holds legal title to property on behalf of another. It seems to me that this has two applications to your circumstances. Firstly, according to you this is what actually happened. You transferred it to your father for whatever reason of convenience, but you intended to be the real owner of it. That's what a trust is, although you might have a problem proving your case. The second reason is that the law protects vulnerable people who transfer property to those exercising influence over them. One classic example is children transferring property to their parents; another is people who transfer property to their advisors or counselors. But here's why you should not tell your father this!

Your rights as the beneficiary of a trust are to the property itself and (if the property has been sold) to your father's assets. If you tell your father that you are the legal owner of the property then he can act to protect himself against your claim. What a lawyer can do is:
  1. File a legal claim which states that you are in fact the owner of these assets; which will
  2. Protect you if he sells or mortgages any more of your assets; and
  3. Get an order preventing him from disposing of any more of your assets; and
  4. Start court proceedings to make you the legal owner of these assets once again.
These things are much better for you than simply suing your father! They are much more likely to get you what you want. There is even a chance that you will be able to get a lawyer to do this pro bono or payment on results because it's not just a case of suing someone against whom you have a grievance: it's a case of someone vulnerable who was unfairly victimised and who has a claim to specific assets.

So, lawyer up! If you tell us where you live someone here can probably suggest a source of legal aid.

(1) That article is very inadequate but it was the best I could find on short notice. If only there were a way to improve Wikipedia articles!
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:22 PM on February 21, 2009


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