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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I have had my lawyer in a two-phase estate case a year. One

Customer Question

I have had my lawyer in a two-phase estate case for over a year. One phase is a will and a trust that can not be changed after I pass on. The other phase is an attempt do make a financial/materials donation to a college. There have been disagreements and timing problems with college personnel. my lawyer has sent five or six letters that I roughly drafted to college. Recently, a college attorney phoned my lawyer and they spoke by phone about questions I had asked via the attorney's letter. My lawyer did not tell me of this phone call, and I did not give permission for him to communicate with college lawyer verbally rather than in writing. I have lost trust in my lawyer due to this situation. This lawyer is trustee of a fairly large trust fund, and the loss of trust makes me wonder about keeping that lawyer as the trustee. Can I get a new lawyer for all this work, or am I stuck with the present attorney relationship?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

If your attorney is also the trustee for the trust, it is going to make it more difficult to change attorneys, although it is usually possible (it really depends on the specific documentation in your trust that determines how a change in trustee can be made).

But in general, you do have a choice to be represented by an attorney of your choosing.

While we are obviously very limited in what details are available in this quick Q&A forum, I would suggest following up with your attorney again about the phone call issue with the college/university's attorney. Generally a client does not specifically authorize phone call vs. letter correspondence, and an attorney taking a phone call is not necessarily a significant issue. If it is a single phone call and the attorney did not take any action to impair your position or otherwise compromise your finances, I would recommend at least trying to follow back up again. You may have expectations for your attorney that were not entirely clear (if you wanted your attorney to refrain from taking phone calls that would be an extraordinary instruction, and certainly one that would need to be given separately), and if the issue is more specific to their failure to notify you immediately, check to see if there is a pattern of this, or if it was only once.

(I am not trying to release a bad attorney from bad conduct - again I lack sufficient knowledge of your case to be able to give you a formal opinion - but do try to match your expectations to what are more commonly found for legal consumers).