Greenfield, IN asked in Consumer Law and Estate Planning for Indiana

Q: Attorney sent an unexpected & backdated invoice 5 months after I opted not to work with him. Do I pay it?

During a 30-min consult last January, atty quoted a flat $80 to write a will. It all seemed fairly straightforward, until he wanted to write himself into my will "in the event that my heir and I die at the same time." At the end of the meeting, he tried to close the deal: I told him I'd think about it and get back to him. He never mentioned a consultation fee, nor did he try to charge me for anything before I left.

A few days later, I called to decline the will.

In March, his asst. calls to say my will is ready. I explained that I had canceled the will in January. She got mad, but said she'd "mark it down."

Now it's mid-May, and I've just rec'd a $225 invoice for a "consultation fee." It's backdated DUE the day of the Jan. consult. The notes say if I buy the will they'll cancel the invoice.

The question is: do I pay the invoice or will payment constitute some kind of atty/client relationship? I don't want to work with this atty, so how do I extricate myself from him?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: If everything you say is true, you should file a complaint with the State Bar of Indiana. You can find their phone number online. It is an ethical violation for an attorney write himself into the will of a person for whom he is not a natural heir. It might also be an ethical violation not to disclose a consultation fee in advance. (I am not sure because I am not an Indiana attorney.)

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