Lease Provision Saves Family Business and Restaurant

Our clients owned a popular local restaurant, but they leased the building from a long-time friend/landlord. A few months before his death, the landlord signed a lease with my clients that contained a provision stating that upon his death, the building the restaurant was in and all the equipment would pass to my clients. After the landlord passed, the children of the landlord refused to honor the provision in the lease stating that it was forged, and even if not forged, was not legally enforceable. They also attempted to argue that the entire restaurant business belonged to the landlord and was leased to our clients, and therefore the children now owned the successful restaurant itself. We argued that the lease provision, even though unorthodox, was a writing intended as a will and therefore enforceable pursuant to C.R.S. §15-11-503, and that there was no validity to their claim that the deceased actually owned the restaurant business itself. We litigated the case through mediation, where we were able to negotiate an outcome that was very favorable to our clients, resulting in their ownership of the building and the withdrawal of the claim by the decedent’s children that they owned the restaurant.