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David Kennett
David Kennett, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 27689
Experience:  25 years practicing attorney
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My mother died over three years ago. My brother and I visited

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My mother died over three years ago. My brother and I visited with a lawyer and he agreed to handle our estate and said it could be finalized in about six months. He also said he would keep the cost down and reasonable by having paralegals do most of the work. Then, after not hearing anything for two months, we call the law office to find out a new attorney had been assigned our case.That was almost three years ago. We keep getting the run around and keep getting notices from the court that the annual accountings are due for 2010, 2011, and 2012. Now, the attorney wants us to pay him $10,200 within ten days or he will increase this amount. I called his office and asked for an itemized statement of the work but did not recevie anything. The case is very straightforward. there is one house left in the estate. What should I do?
Dear JACUSTOMER - I see no reason why the estate should take anywhere close to this long however I have no access to the file nor do I know if there is something unusual. In any event, every lawyer has a duty to communicate with his or her client and to provide an accounting of any fees being charged so regardless of whether the case has taken too long the attorney should be responding to your requests. I have no idea why you would be asked for fees unless the estate is insolvent and there is no money to pay the attorney. These are all questions that need to be answered and if your attorney is not providing the answers then your option is to fire the attorney and file a complaint with the ethics committee of the Bar Association. I have provided the website below for your convenience. I never like to accuse anyone of anything unless I have all the facts and have heard both sides but no estate of this size should take 3 years. Maybe a year or so but not three unless there are some really unusual circumstances. Obviously, if your attorney will not cooperate, your only recourse is to file a complaint with the ethics committee. Here's the website for the Bar Association:
David Kennett and 4 other Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Three months after my mom died in April of 2010. My brother and I went to visit with an estate attorney. He said the estate should be finished in about 6-7 months and that the paralegal could do most of the work to keep costs reasonable and at a minimum. So we visited with the paralegal named Josh and he got the ball rolling. We gave him a listing of property in the estate and he filed it with the court and provided us copies of court documents. Then, after two months of not hearing anything, I called the office only to find out our case had been assigned to an attorney joining the law firm and that Josh had left. We got the name of a secretary named Jeanie who was to act as paralegal and facilitate our estate settlement process. So over the course of the next 7-8 months, we never heard from her. We kept sending emails and calling but these went unanswered. Then, she sent an email and apologized for the delay and said the reason was that she was on a high learning curve. She said all would be done by January at the latest. So then we never heard anything again until March, 2012 when third person contacted us and said she was put in charge of finalizing the estate and wanted a listing of property and how we wanted to divide it. (Which we had already provided to Josh about 2 years earlier). Over the course of two years, my brother and I had divided all the property in the estate and had disposed of everything except one house. So we go meet with the attorney and the three of us come to agreement to “ have him (the attorney) list the only remaining piece of property left in the estate (the house) with one of two realtors requested by me and my brother within the next week.” So for four weeks we hear nothing. I drive by the house and see a “For Sale by Owner” sign in the yard with the attorney’s secretary’s phone number on it. He sends us a letter and says his office will sell the house for a 7% fee and he will hire someone to clean for a price. He wants us to sign the agreement to this effect. So we ignore the letter and call the realtor he said he would call and list the house. The house has not sold and probably will not because of structural damage. In the meantime, he has written us two letters saying he wants payment of $10,200 in ten days or he will raise the fee.

Based on all I have heard this is attorney misconduct and should be reported to the ethics committee of the Bar Association. Frankly this conduct is outrageous and is not the way an estate should be handled. You definitely need to report this to the Bar as soon as possible.

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