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A Deathly Legal Matter...need advice.

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Chilehead, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Messages: 1,956

    No pun intended. Here's what happened: I contract with a lady to have a $4000 retaining wall put in. She gives me partial payment in the form of a check up front, and I start working on the wall. About halfway through, my customer kicks the bucket. The unused materials are all at her house. Her son and daughter have assured me that I will be payed my final sum due, upon completion(as stated in the Service Contract). The problem is, that the two of them are not in any way connected with this project. So here are my questions: Should I finish the project? Why? Am I obligated to do so? Why? I want to make sure that I make the decision with least risk, without hurting my business. Please THINK THROUGH your replies before answering. Thank you all. :)
  2. grandview (2006)

    grandview (2006) LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,465

    Find out who their lawyer is. It could end up in probate and you may not be paid until the house is sold. And put a mechanic lean on the property ,or get a new cashiers check from the family to finish the work
  3. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Messages: 1,956

    Yeah, I'd love to finish the work. Problem is that payment isn't due until the project is done. The son/daughter duo think they can hold me to this, even though their names are no where on the contract. I'd love a cashier's check up front.
  4. georgiagrass

    georgiagrass LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 970

    The advice to contact the lawyer for the estate is good advice. An alternative is to work directly with the executor of the estate. In any event, obtain a contract addendum with the signature of the executor or some other live person who will guarantee payment.
  5. old oak lawn

    old oak lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 703

    i think i would stop work until a new contract was signed by someone.
  6. Toy2

    Toy2 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,924

    Get pictures of everything up to where she passed, document everything....everything, write down what the family told you, time, date, who, what they drove...trust me it never hurts to have a diary of everything...it will save you!!!
  7. nemow

    nemow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 253

    The executor is probably one or both of the kids right? I have had this before with a mowing contract and the daughter of the deceased not only held her end of the contract she was able to write check out of the deceased check book with "executor" ( I think thats what it said) next to her signature.

    I would be careful obviously but it it possible to have the son or daughter resign the same contract. If this is all going thru a lawyer anyway it will be well documented for estate records that she was indeed paying out money to have the wall done. If you have them sign or rather resign the same contract and show that partial payment has already been payed, they will probably be just as happy as you that they ahve it in writing. Just remember they just lost a family member, things could be a little out of whack and you may have to be patient with them getting thier acts together. It is only a stone wall to them.
  8. Fvstringpicker

    Fvstringpicker LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,647

    Death of a party to a contract does not normal terminate the contract unless its a personal service contract an then not always. Accordingly, you can possibly be held liable for not completing the wall and can collect from the estate if you do complete it. You need to contact an attorney at any rate. Remember the old adage "Anyone who tries to be his own attorney has a fool for a client"
  9. PerfiCut L&L

    PerfiCut L&L LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 458

    Consult an attourney. (your only source for true legal rights) anything else is speculation.

    Depending the states laws, the executor may or may not have the right to make payment. Some states only empower the executor to enforce and ensure the rights of the last will are enforced. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I would of course, talk to the daughter/son and if they will either pay you up front the balance (great), if not then I would consider writing up an ammendment to the contract having one or both sign it, stating payment in full is due upon completion. Otherwise I would talk to an attourney to see what my legal rights are now, and what they would be in a month from now.

    Document, take some pictures, and document some more. Keep a time line of events.

    Good luck
  10. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Messages: 1,956

    Thank you all. I'll be contacting an attorney.

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