Asked in Real Estate Law for New Jersey

Q: My sibling's lawyer tells me he will not communicate with me as a pro se. The issues are simple, so can I force him to?

The issue concerns the proper probating, and dividing of real estate we received after our final parent passed away. It's been months since the death, and I want to mutually hire an attorney who will assist us in doing this, but he hired an attorney who abruptly stopped communicating and insisting I hire a lawyer. He no longer replies, even to certified mail... We do not need separate lawyers, and it's my position that my sibling merely wants to drag this simple task financially so I succomb to giving him my share for a song. What are my options to force action without an attorney. If I receive a sanitized copy of a Partition, I know I can follow it as a Pro se back into court. I already have done so as a Motion but do not have a copy of a sanitized partition to follow.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Jake Causing Santos
Jake Causing Santos
  • Mount Olive, NJ
  • Licensed in New Jersey

A: I am not sure what you mean by a "sanitized partition". However, if you are referring to trying to obtain copies of documents that are in your sibling's possession, if you are already in Court, then you can file a motion with the Court (with a copy to your sibling's attorney) to demand a copy of the document you need. Most judges will order the turnover of documents so long as the documents are necessary for what is trying to be achieved.

With regard to communicating with your sibling's lawyer, there is no prohibition that I know of that would prevent the attorney from communicating with you directly so long as you are representing yourself. By the same token, I am not aware of any requirements that your sibling's attorney must communicate with you (except for when court filings are being made). His primary obligations are to his client (your sibling), not to you since you did not retain him. This would be different though if you jointly hired this attorney because then both of you would be his clients. If there was a retainer agreement signed, it will specify who his client is.

Your sibling's attorney wanting you to have an attorney is probably due to the fact that there is a conflict between you and his client (your sibling) and he would feel more comfortable if you were represented also.

This information is general in nature and is not a substitute for advice from an attorney that had thoroughly reviewed the facts of your case.

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