Environmental Concerns

Environmental Concerns

My father passed away in 1998. He had a salvage yard with a pretty large garage on site. The property was appraised for just over $200k, with the transferable salvage license included. The license are "Grandaddy Rights" meaning that the environmental concerns that someone today would have to go through a lot more preventitive actions to open a salvage yard. When my dad owned and operated the business, things were not as strict and thus, the soil there is contaminated pretty badly. Now that the estate is finally being executed, I have told that the cost to sell the property would outweigh what it is worth because of the clean-up procedures. I know that the city is trying to get the property because of upcoming plans for a road go through the property. So here are my questions: 1) If the property were sold to someone with the "grandaddy rights" would a bank finance it with these environmental concerns? 2) If it were to have concrete over the contaminated soil, would it still be "contaminated"? 3) Should I hold onto the property and lease or sell, or denounce my inheritence which I desparately do not want to do as it means a lot to me and my family? 4) The only reason these issues ever became a problem was when the city decided that they wanted a part of the land for a road, so now I feel as though they are trying to get me to accept their "lowball" offer on a section of land. Is there a "watchdog" group or someone in a position in which I could notify of their "bullying" tatics? Thanks for taking the time to read and hopefully respond to this, If it makes it any easier, the property is located in West Virginia, which makes things difficult as I live in Ohio. Again, Thank You


Whew, that is quite a long question. I can give you a few general guidelines, but you will need the help of several professionals. You must consult a probate attorney in the state in which your dad was domiciled at death. You must be concerned about the liability you may face as executor and that heirs might face if they accept a bequest of the property. The probate attorney should coordinate these decisions with an attorney specializing in environmental law. The liability and responsibility you and the heirs may have could exceed the value of the property so caution is in order. You should take no actions without first obtaining this specialized advice. Any actions or transfers of the property could affect your liability and that of others. Also, you do not explain why the estate is still open if your father died in 1998. This could present a range of estate, income and state tax issues which the probate attorney (and perhaps a CPA) might need to address. Once these experts are consulted you can review obtaining an appraisal of the property and inquiring from a local bank whether financing would be possible. But first address the threshold issues. You never mentioned if the business and land were owned by an entity (e.g., limited liability company) which could limit the liability exposure of you and the heirs (maybe). Address this with your environmental attorney or have him/her bring in a corporate attorney as well.

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