If a business that was gifted to me, how do I protect myself from them asking me for money later?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If a business that was gifted to me, how do I protect myself from them asking me for money later?

I am a chiropractor and for the last 25 years I have had my own practice. The chiropractor down the street from me retired and referred all his patients to me and gave me some old equipment at no charge. After referring a couple of patients he mentioned if I could throw him a bone in 6 months or a

year, meaning he wants something. I will not and have not paid him, so I wrote the following to have him sign which he did and 2 witnesses sign it as well, to be safe. The agreement between him and I States that he acknowledges that he is providing equipment by way of donation and that he expects no future remuneration for the referral of business post retirement. Is it possible for him to take me to court by him lying and saying there was a verbal agreement and that I owe him?

Asked on December 9, 2017 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Is it possible for him to take you to court? Yes--almost anyone can file an lawsuit for almost anything he wants (the courts do not pre-screen lawsuits for validity). But if you have something in writing that these items were gifted or donated as well as your own testimony, it is highly unlikely that he would prevail--based on what you write, you have more and better evidence that he gifted these things to you than he would have that he did not, and a gift, once given, cannot be ungiven--the giver has no more right to or interest in it. 
If you were to be sued, in addition to bringing the document to court and having your own testimony, bring the witnesses who saw him sign it, too.

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