Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
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Yes, you can get the money back, but will have to submit a "Creditor claim" against his estate for a refund of the retainer that was unearned. The Bar won't really have anything to do with it, as this is a matter of his estate being liable for refunding you the money.
You can contact the probate court in the county where he lived and practiced and see if a probate case has been opened to settle his estate. Then you contact the executor and file a creditor claim with them for a refund of the fee..
Well, if no one has filed a probate case to settle his estate, then you are kind of stuck unless you wanted to actually "force" open a probate case and become the Administrator of his estate so you could reimburse yourself.
But I kind of think that if he had any assets in his estate, some family member would have filed a probate case to settle his estate. So if he had no assets in his estate, you may unfortunately be out of luck in getting a refund on your retainer.
I would try to reach out to his next of kin and see if he was married or had children and maybe contact the local property valuation office to see if he owned any real estate. If he did, then it might be worth your time pursuing forcing open an estate to recover your money.