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Attorney's Fees

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I reside in Maryland and my mother passed away 5 years ago. We had a family attorney who was handling the estate......very incompetently.....that is why it has taken 5 years to get to this point. He was always late in his filings which resulted in my sister and I being charged with contempt.
I had to go to a hearing where my sister & I were removed as personal representatives and our attorney was replaced by a court appointed one.
This new attorney has been wonderful & has settled this estate in 3 months time.
My question is........can this 1st (inept) attorney charge us for his incompetency? I realize that he can charge us anything he wants to (so far....we have not received a bill).....but, legally should we have to pay this since he did absolutely nothing for this estate?
Thanks for any and all help!

Dandy Don

Senior Member
It would be unethical for you to try to get off scot free without paying the first attorney for the services he did provide--after all, he obviously spent some time doing the paperwork and filing the documents with the courthouse, so you can't honestly say he did nothing. If he served as executor, he is entitled to a fee of up to 10% of the first $20,000 value of the estate, plus $2,000 plus 4% of any amount of the estate over $20,000.

You do, however, have reason to be dissatisfied with the results of his incompetence--you should have officially fired him at the time you hired the services of the new attorney.

Your only option now is to pay about 75% of the bill that he would submit and leaving the rest of it unpaid as a form of protest, and then filing a complaint against him with the state bar association so that he can be reprimanded for his incompetence and maybe that would be a wake-up call to him to warn him that he can't continue to do this to future clients and not be held accountable.


Senior Member
If the attorney was totally incompetent, and his failure to perform services cost you money in terms of access to the estate, and if his misconduct was the real cause of contempt proceedings with the attendant stress and cost, it seems to me that he should pay YOU for the damage he caused you.

Almost every state and local bar association has a procedure for handling fee disputes. Also, ask your current lawyer what you should do interms of fees -- in any event the total fee you pay to both lawyers should NOT exceed what one lawyer would have chargred.

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