So, I'm being sued for $165,000. That's cool.

Forgive me if this is long, but I figured this would be a good place to vent.

A few years ago, my grandmother died from a long term illness. Grandma was not a nice lady-- she was physically and mentally abusive, an alcoholic, and just a generally crappy person. Hell, as soon as I was more or less an adult, she started trying to push me around, literally and figuratively. Pretty quickly, I realized how awful she was and more or less stopped contact with her. While some people would continue contact out of a family obligation, I wasn’t about to let my life be brought down by terrible people.

When she died, nobody called me. In fact, I found out by seeing a Facebook post from a friend of a step cousin on somebody’s wall. I called my uncle, the only other child besides my mom and a lifetime mama’s boy, and asked if it was true. . . then he blew up on me demanding to know why I even cared, etc. So, that ended my relationship with my uncle. Again, why have relationships with shitty people?

I never received anything from the estate-- not the momentos that had been promised to me my entire life nor the jewelry that was supposed to come down to me either. Uncle kept telling my mom he was going to send it to me, but it never came. I didn’t care. I mean, I don’t want anything from these people, so even if it’s just on principle, they can have the stuff. I don’t need all that bad mojo flying around my house anyway.

Fast forward to a week and a half ago. I received a 60 page complaint from GMAC, naming me as someone liable for her mortgage-- $165,000 and if I don’t respond within 30 days, they’ll get a default judgment against me for that amount. After calling and badgering various family members that I do speak to, it was brought to my attention that uncle didn’t exactly handle the death properly. He handled everything, telling my sweet and frankly somewhat simple mom he had it all taken care of. What did he do? There was no will, he never entered into probate— instead, he had an estate sale, left the keys on the counter, called GMAC and said he was walking. Now, when all of this came to light last week, he told my mom that GMAC told him that was fine, he wasn’t liable for that debt. This says to me either he’s stupid or lying.

My mom was served, my uncle was served, I was served, and so was my very young ( <7) niece. My mom called the law firm on the paperwork (which, when you do, by the way, announces loudly that it is a debt collection firm), spoke to a lawyer, and he told her he was going to send over some piece of paper that absolved her of all claims to the house— telling her this is just a formality so we can’t come back later and say they sold our rightful property. I called and left this guy a voicemail, but he never got back to me.

Anyway, our company has an attorney on staff, but she isn’t familiar enough with this kind of law to really advise me with much more than that I must respond. So, now I get to retain a lawyer. I’m 26 years old-- I don’t know what kind of attorney I need, how to find a good attorney in that field, or how much I’m going to have to pay for this. My uncle told my mom he’d pay any of our legal fees, but needless to say, I don’t believe him.

What angers me most about this is that I intentionally washed my hands of this woman and all of her insanity. . . yet she’s managing to haunt me from beyond the grave. Like I said, I know I need an attorney, but this is all just so freaking complicated and ridiculous— all for this awful woman who, frankly, I was more relieved by her death than upset.

This is why I don’t talk to my family. Jesus Christ.

Oops! I have no nieces-- it was my cousin who was also served. Curse the edit limit.

Wow. Stupid relatives that convince others " they have it all under control" are a pain. An aqaintance of mine had a husband like that. She let him take care of the finances, and when things went bad, he just stuck his head in the sand and " didn’t want to bother her" untill the repo men showed up on the door and kicked the whole familly (two kids under five years old) out on the street. They had to file for bankruptcy. Unsurprisingly, they are now in the middel of divorce.
I’m subscribing to see what happens in this story, DiosaBellissima. .

Another one signing on for the soap opera.

IANAL. You did not sign on the mortgage. You cannot inherit debt. This lawsuit will not go anywhere on procedural grounds, and the law firm is trolling your family.

On third read, your uncle is in deep shit for the way he handled everything.

What Vunderbob said. People can sue anyone for anything, it doesn’t have to make sense. Clearly in this case they’re suing anything that moves, in the hope that something will stick.

However, it sucks ass that you will probably have to spend some of your money defending a crazy lawsuit to stop it getting any crazier. Hopefully it will be straightforward enough that it doesn’t take much of your money.

In the meantime, since it may be entertaining to people subscribing to the soap opera, let me tell you my soap opera involving a crappy granny, an evil uncle and an insane lawsuit.

(it has a moderately happy ending btw. Evil didn’t exactly triumph, though it managed a modest flag-waving procession with very few captives, and good was not utterly squashed, just a little dented)

About ten years ago, my grandmother died. She, like your grandmother, was not a nice person, physically and emotionally abusive to her two children, but she’d calmed down somewhat in her old age and her children - my mother and my uncle - both had civil relationships with her at the time of her death of various degrees of tenuousness. She did have a habit of rotating “I’m not talking to you this year” status between her children and her sister, as the fit took her, but as far as we know she wasn’t not talking to anyone at the time of her death, unless that was something she was also not talking about.

She was in Australia, my uncle was in Australia, my mother was in the UK. So uncle was basically “point man” for dealing with issues arising, but he wasn’t the executor - a legal firm was. To my mother’s questioning about the will and so forth my uncle professed complete ignorance. (This turned out to be a complete and total lie. He was actually in the room during all legal dealings that my grandmother had in the last 6 months of her life)

Then after a few weeks of stalling, he finally came out with it. The will left everything 50/50 to the kids. But apparently granny had given her house to him before her death. Therefore, the will was pretty much a joke, because my grandmother’s house comprised about 95% of her assets. My mother was quite distressed. Being fond of a dollar, my uncle was not offering or intending to share any of this loot with her.

However, this was all quite suspicious. Giving her house away before her death would have made my grandmother basically destitute. That was not very like her. It made no sense - why would she do it this way when she could simply leave the house to him in her will, if she wanted? Also, transferring the house this way would have entailed paying quite a lot of stamp duty, which would not be payable on an inheritance.

I was dispatched to investigate. Investigations showed that the house was still firmly in granny’s name. Gradually further details came out. There had been a document drawn up, but it hadn’t been lodged or finalised before her death. This was done by the same people who did the will, and with my uncle carrying on a lot of negotiations ‘in his mother’s name’ about what she (supposedly) wanted. She had signed one document, but had deliberately edited it before she signed it, in a way that made it legal gibberish, and not lodgeable (and I suspect she knew this - she was very savvy about money).

At this point, my uncle sued the lawyers who drew up the will, my grandmother’s estate, and my mother. Exactly what my mother was supposed to have done wrong is a little bit of a mystery here. He was trying to get her to sign something assigning rights in the house to him, and she point blank refused. All this time, by the way, the people living in the house were still depositing the rent into an account which was co-signed by my grandmother and uncle. Nobody has ever seen anything of this money, which should have formed part of the estate. Nobody is quite sure either what happened to a number of investments which my uncle was dealing with in her name either.

My mother engaged a lawyer. He was of the opinion that the behaviour of the people drawing up the will was rather unprofessional, leaving open as they did such an opportunity for conflict of interest. It was as if they forgot that my uncle was NOT their client - his mother was! Ultimately, the whole mess went to arbitration.

My mother ended up settling for a split somewhat worse than 50/50, but a good deal better than 95/5. She was satisfied enough with that as an end to the whole mess. Whether my uncle was or not I don’t know. Nobody in my half of the family has spoken to anyone on his half since.

To elaborate further, I’m guessing the lawsuit is a sledgehammer used as a flyswatter attempt by the law firm/collection agency to get you to sign away any claim to the estate, and by extension, any perceived interest in the house.

An estate such as this makes it very difficult for the mortgage holder to foreclose on the property. The actual defendant would be the estate, not the survivors/heirs. That doesn’t count your uncle, who may well become a criminal defendant if someone pushes the case.

Hire a lawyer, frankly anyone with a debt/estate practice should do.

Then, because I’m a bastard, have him sue your uncle for your lawyer’s fees.

I love an eeevvviiilll mind.

That makes about as much sense as the original law suit. How do you prove the connection between the mortgage company and the lawyer?

Damned edit window.

Another reason to say the lawsuit is a ham-fisted bluff is service on a 7 year old girl. She CANNOT be sued in a case like this for any reason simply because of her age.

If your family was more cohesive, it’d be fun to declare your seven year old cousin to be the sole heir, then dare the collection people to sue her for the house/money.

No. The best thing to do is pay a lawyer for an hour of time to write a letter telling the company to fuck off and be done with it. Getting further involved is beyond idiotic.

That’s probably the best course of action. Since (at some point in the OP) you mentioned that it’s a collections agency, they’re probably just going after everyone with any connection at all (even the 7 year old, just due to the last name, I’m sure) and hoping something sticks and somehow they end up with some cash, even if it’s just half the money (some rich cousin’s lawyer sees the letter and just calls up and settles out of court to be done with whatever this is about).

My first thought was to just toss the letter and move on with your life, but there’s the chance you’ll wind up with a mess on your credit report or a default judgement against you. So yeah, a letter from a lawyer is probably your best bet and will probably tell them that you do, in fact, know that you have nothing to do with this and will get them to drop the case against you.

Collection agencies will try to connect anything and everything they can in an attempt to bully the weak. They just want to collect money, and how they do it or who pays is of no concern, even to the extent of violating or skirting the law.

It is in your best interest to oppose anything that you are not responsible for. Do not toss notices in the trash, but refer them to a lawyer. If you don’t, the collection agency may be able to obtain a judgement against you, no matter how fraudulent or improper. It’s easy to defend yourself against a judgment, but only before the court hands it down. After, you’re in deep shit and the court will consider it a valid debt no matter how much you may protest.

And a judge will take your lack of response as guilt. The judge will swallow everything the collection agency claims without question or investigation if there is no opposition. That’s just the way the system works.

OTOH, if you oppose and challenge the action, you stand a very good chance of winning and getting charges dismissed. Collection agencies do not pursue what they know in advance to be untrue or merely guesswork on their part – they have easier targets.

Don’t be an easy target.

Would that require a separate suit? A relatively common request from defendants in Spanish “contested suits” (as opposite to a case where there is a need to see a judge but the two parties are actually in agreement) is to have the other side pay their lawyer’s and court fees if the suit is dismissed on grounds such as “frivolity” or “inadmisibility” (for example, suing for a debt someone who never incurred it).


When my father died (without a penny to his name, I might add), his creditors called me up one day and asked me how I intended to settle his debt. Apparently he owed about $1500.

I literally laughed at them, and said, “You have had more interaction with him than I have. I only seem him once since I was five. Maybe *you *should pay the bill? Don’t call here again.”

Never heard from 'em again.

True, but Diosa was actually served with a summons, not just a call or letter from the collections agency. Which means she needs to reply, even if it’s just a “Motion to Dismiss because my Uncle is an ass and I’ve got nothing to do with this”, or she’s screwed.

ETA: Diosa, this should be obvious, but don’t sign anything from the collection agency without having your own attorney go over it first, and don’t use the same attorney as your Uncle, or anyone else in your family who is named in the suit. Make sure your attorney represents your interests, and nothing or no one else.

That’s right, don’t be a target. Paying a lawyer for an hour of time to tell the collectors to fuck off in the most proper legalese possible is money well spent.

That said, it also doesn’t mean the 60 page document the family members were served with is an Honest To Og lawsuit. If the collection people are so callous as to go after a 7 year old, cobbling up 60 pages of bullshit legalese and paying some clod to be a process server doesn’t mean they have, or actually will, file it in a court. Their intent is to coerce everyone involved into signing away their interest in a flawed estate so they can foreclose without opposition.

My area of expertise is most definitely NOT estates or property law.

But DO NOT FAIL TO RESPOND. If you’re sued, you need to file an answer to avoid a default judgement. Get a lawyer.

I don’t believe it’s true that a seven-year-old cannot be sued. As I understand it, if the seven year old were the heir, and someone wanted to claim that the conveyence was improper for whatever reason, the seven-year-old would be sued. The court would typically appoint a parent as a guardian ad litem, responsible for the actual defense.

Or am I mistaken? I’d like to see a cite for the claim that such a suit is impossible, anyway.

It is unclear from the OP. she mentions complaint and being served but I’m not sure if it is a notice of tort or an actual lawsuit (one is a threat to sue one is going through with it). If they are threatening to sue a letter from a lawyer may take care of it. If the lawsuit has been filed you absolutely need to retain a lawyer and answer the suit.

I am not a lawyer, but have worked for many law firms.

Did granny die intestate - without an actual Will that named you specifically as a beneficiary?

If there was a Will, and you were indeed named, then this lawsuit would have some validity in terms of perhaps returning any large sums of money or goods of value you might have received (gold bars, original Picasso painting, etc.).

If you were not named in a Will, of if there was no Will, it will be hard to prove you got jack shit after she died - and just because you are a blood relation, doesn’t mean you have any obligation to cover any debts.

You might be able to get away with a single hand written, notarized letter stating:
"To Whom It May Concern;

I was estranged from my grandmother, Mary Jones, for many years and had no contact with her whatsoever. Upon her death, I did not receive any goods or inheritance of any kind, nor, to the best of my knowledge, was I mentioned in any Last Will or Testament.


Bob Jones"

It would then be up to the creditors to prove you indeed inherited something of value that could defray the costs of her debt. Otherwise, they can try, but you should not be obligated to pay the costs of any debt incurred by an estranged family member who left you no assets.

Again, I am not a lawyer, but I do know that documents like this pretty much state the facts and should take you out of the mix.