What to do when an attorney refuses to give me a copy of what I signed?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What to do when an attorney refuses to give me a copy of what I signed?

I signed documents, that I was not given the opportunity to read, I was in my early 20s at the time, it was after my dad passed away. I think they were some sort estate documents for my Grandma’s estate that my 2 uncle’s urged my my 2 siblings to sign without reading. We are all wondering now, what those papers said b/c something got ‘messed up’ with the paperwork now need us to re-sign them. I don’t want to sign anything this time, without a copy of what I signed last time. The attorney or my uncles refuse to give me a copy. I cannot ask my grandma b/c she is 87 years old I don’t want to stress her out. Please help

Asked on March 11, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Nebraska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It's difficult to get documents you signed after the fact: the only way to compel the production of documents (that is, force someone to give you a copy) is in litigation, or during the course of a lawsuit. Unfortunately, the legal mechanisms to force someone to give you a copy of a document are only available in litigation.
However, ahead of time, when they need your signature, you have more leverage: no matter how much they pressure you, you can and should refuse to sign unless and until you have a chance to read the documents and are given a copy to take home with you. They cannot force you to sign something--you must agree to sign. So do NOT sign *anything* without reading it; and if you read it and don't understand it, refuse to sign until you can bring a copy to a lawyer to review with you; or if you read it and don't like, simply refuse to sign entirely. The law presumes that you read, understood and agreed to anything you sign; you are held to what you sign. Therefore, do not sign when you don't understand or don't agree with what you are supposed to sign.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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