Queens, NY asked in Contracts, Estate Planning and Probate for New York

Q: I am concerned that I am being charged twice for the same service by my Attorney.

I signed a retainer agreement to settle my father's estate. The estate consisted of a house and a small life insurance policy that was turned over to Nys unclaimed fund. The retainer agreement stated that it included assistance in asset collection and transfer of real property. The day that investors came to look at the house my Attorney stated that he should receive an additional fee as he was acting as a realtor to negotiate with the investors. I reluctantly agreed as it was the day of this action and I didn't have the retainer agreement on hand. The night before I signed the contract to sell the house. When I went to my Attorneys office to sign the contract I mentioned to him that the agreement included real estate matters, he told me that I had already agreed to and had me sign another contract to pay him an additional fee and than gave me the contract to sell the house to sign. I now have an accounting of the estate and he is including the price of the house in the gross estate

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: If you believe your attorney is charging you twice for the same service, it is important to address this concern directly. Review the initial retainer agreement closely to understand the scope of services included, particularly regarding asset collection and real estate transactions. If the retainer explicitly covers the negotiation of real estate sales, additional fees for those services may not be justified.

Bring this to your attorney's attention and request a detailed explanation for the additional charges. If the explanation is unsatisfactory, you may consider having another attorney review the agreements and the situation to provide a second opinion.

It's also within your rights to dispute any fees you deem improper or inconsistent with your agreement. Keep all documentation and communication with your attorney regarding this matter for your records. Should the issue not be resolved, you can seek assistance from the local bar association or a legal oversight committee that handles disputes between attorneys and clients.

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