Am I responsible for paying a bill from an attorney who I did not hire?

UPDATED: Sep 9, 2011

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Am I responsible for paying a bill from an attorney who I did not hire?

My parent’s Will was drawn up by a FL attorney. When my mother passed we contacted this attorney, but due to his high fees we opted to go with another attorney for the estate disposition. The first attorney would not release the Will invoking the “Attorney Lien” until we payed a $700 bill. Most of the charges are for drafting the letter of engagement and follow up to the letter engagement which I did not sign.

Asked on September 9, 2011 under Estate Planning, Georgia


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the situation.  Have you retained a new attorney? Then I would have that attorney deal with the other attorney for you to obtain a relaease of the Will. If he claims to have a lien on the file for an outstanding fee then you have the right to challenge the lien, but he does not have the right to withhold the file.  He will not release it though until he gets an acknowledgement that there is a fee so look at the bill carefully and see.  You say that "most" of the charges are for retaining him but you did not do so.  That was your right.  But are there other charges that are valid? Then you can acknowledge them.  This will be an issue of a fee dispute and he will have to validate the charges of it gets that far.  Good luck.

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