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Richard, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 55442
Experience:  29 years of experience practicing law, including tax and estate planning.
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I red an attorney in Dec 2014 to handle my husbands will

Customer Question

I hired an attorney in Dec 2014 to handle my husbands will being probated. We went to court on 12/23/14 and I was appointed executor of the estate, per his will. Per Texas law, we had 90 days to file the inventory. I gave the attorney the inventory 3 days before it was due to be filed, approximately 3/20/15. After not hearing from him at all, I called him in July. He could not locate my file and had not filed the inventory. To date, he hasn't called me back to finalize the inventory, nor has it been filed with the court. I paid him $2500 in full, at the beginning of this process for his fee. What are my options? I am afraid I am going to be in trouble with the court and also want to complete this so I can distribute his assets!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.

Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you.

What you want to do is raise the stakes on him so that he knows that not complying with your demands is going to cost him far more in the end than simply giving you your refund now. You should send him one more letter...a certified, return receipt requested letter detailing the history, terminating him as your lawyer, and demanding he refund your money plus any damages you have suffered due to his failure to perform within a short specified period of time. Inform him that if your demand is not timely complied with, you will have no choice but to: i) file a formal ethics complaint with the state bar association, and ii) file a suit against him for your damages. Be sure to specifically mention that you will be filing this claim not only as a breach of contract case, but also as deceptive trade practice, legal malpractice, bad faith and gross negligence causes of action, which will entitle you not only to your actual damages, but also an additional amount equal to multiple times your actual damages as punitive damages. That should provide plenty of incentive to comply with your demands; but, if it does not, file your ethics complaint and your suit. In my experience, this letter is all you will need to send because the lawyer will give return your money, pay your damages, and return your file rather than risk the loss of his license and punitive damages.

Thank you so much for allowing me to help you with your questions. I have done my best to provide information which fully addresses your question. If you have any follow up questions, please ask! If I have fully answered your question(s) to your satisfaction, I would appreciate you rating my service as OK, Good or Excellent (hopefully Good or Excellent). I thank you in advance for taking the time to provide me a positive rating!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do I have to get another attorney to file the inventory or do I need to go to court to get permission to fire him first?
Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for following up. I'm sorry for the delay in responding...I had a pre-scheduled meeting. I appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience. You don't have to have permission to fire him. You can simply engage another attorney to help you with the probate process going forward, including getting the inventory filed, and your new attorney can file the necessary substitution of counsel documentation.