My wife and I live in New York and paid a lawyer to handle a probate case regarding her mother's will and estate. We paid him the complete retainer amount and it took him what seemed like forever to file the Petition to Probate and a couple of Waivers with the Surrogate Court. He never filed the appropriate papers. He was very inaccessible. He didn't answer telephone calls, email messages or agree to see us when we went to his office without an appointment. We decided to move on; so we fired him and sent a Certified letter telling him so. We asked for all the documents we submitted to him and an itemized bill of all expenses and disbursements, including a check for the balance of the retainer. No compliance, no answer, no acknowledgement. How can we recoup the thousands we've already paid him and the paperwork required for the court? What's the normal course of action from this point on and what's a reasonable amount of time to give him to respond? Thank you.
2 Answers from Attorneys
I suggest you have another attorney write to him. A motion to the presiding judge to substitute counsel could also be made. As to the funds, a Bar Association complaint can be filed. The last step would be a lawsuit to recover.
This is very unfortunate. When you hire a new lawyer, he or she will call or write the prior lawyer to get the file and the other documents you requested and otherwise help to solve this situation.