Who legally owns the money collected from a fundraiser?

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Who legally owns the money collected from a fundraiser?

My mom had a fundraiser for my cousin who was in an accident and was left paralyzed from the chest down. My mom tried to put the money in an account in my cousin’s name but the bank would not let her. She had to opt and thus had to put the raised money in her own name. My cousin is claiming that she is out of money (there have been rumors that she has used all the money she received from the accident on drugs) and has threatened to take my mom to small claims court if she does not give her the money. Legally who “owns” the money?

Asked on March 30, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The issue here is a little different that the way you have phrased it.  The general rule is that you can not raise funds for a partiicular person or purpose and then put them in your own name or use them for your own purposes.  That would be seen as many things - embezzlement just to name one - but there would be brought an action claiming that she defrauded the public.  Maybe starting a trust for your cousin and naming a trustee if you are worried about her use of the money.  Seek legal help here.  Good luck.


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