What is my legal culpability if my father uses my name in his business?

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What is my legal culpability if my father uses my name in his business?

My father is a small business owner and he has used my name as the president of his company without my consent for many years. The registered business has since been dissolved by the secretary of state but he still operates using that business name and has accrued debts in that name. Am I responsible for these debts? Do I have to prove that I did not give consent to be associated with the business in the first place?

Asked on August 28, 2017 under Business Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You are not liable for them unless you guaranteed the debts, or signed for them, or at least directed or caused them to be incurred or taken out. That said, it is far from unlikely that a creditor will, if the business is in your name, sue in the belief they are your debts or that you incurred them, etc., forcing you to show that despite the business name and relationship to your father, you are not involved. Send your father a letter, sent some way you can prove delivery, instructing him to cease and desist from using your name with 15 business days, on the ground that he is 1) effectively defaming you, by causing you to be connected to unpaid debts; and 2) is using your name for his economic advantage without your consent. If he does not stop, then file a lawsuit for defamation and for unauthorized use of your name and/or likeness; seek a court order forcing him to disassociate you fully. This will also help stand as proof that you are not connected to and did not authorize what is going on.


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