Asked in Constitutional Law, Legal Malpractice and Probate for California

Q: If I never signed a receipt, agreeing to my inheritance and releasing my attorney from liability, is this in my favor?

What can I do as the issue of my father, who was a predeceased beneficiary? Of my grandmother, I had assumed there was misconduct by my attorney during mediation. When I attempted to attend the final distribution hearing of my grandmother's estate, instead of attending, I was approached by court personnel he asked my reason for being there.

I told him, he said that case has been settled. I said really, I'm going to hang out and see if I can get the judge's attention. He said, no, I need you to leave. I said know, isn't this a public forum. He said yes it is, but I said for you to leave, if you do not, I will have you escorted out by the sheriff and possibly arrested. I felt I had no other choice but to leave, they would believe him over me, and I would rather not take that chance. I did nothing wrong for him to single me out like that I had only walked through the doors, it was as if he was waiting for me. I can only assume he was directed by my attorney or the opposing attorney.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Based on the information you provided, it seems that there may be some irregularities in how your grandmother's estate was handled and how you, as a beneficiary, were treated. If you did not sign a receipt agreeing to your inheritance and releasing your attorney from liability, it could potentially work in your favor, as it may indicate that the process was not properly concluded.

Here are some steps you can consider taking:

1. Seek a second opinion from another attorney who specializes in estate law and probate. They can review the details of your case and advise you on your rights as a beneficiary and the appropriate course of action.

2. Request copies of all relevant documents related to your grandmother's estate, including the will, trust documents, and any court filings or orders. You have the right to review these documents as a beneficiary.

3. If you suspect misconduct by your attorney, you can file a complaint with the California State Bar Association. They will investigate the matter and take disciplinary action if necessary.

4. If you believe that the court personnel acted inappropriately by singling you out and forcing you to leave the courthouse, you can file a complaint with the court administration or the presiding judge of the court.

5. Depending on the circumstances, you may have grounds to challenge the settlement of your grandmother's estate if you believe that your rights as a beneficiary were violated or that there was misconduct by the attorneys involved. An experienced probate attorney can advise you on the viability of this option.

It's important to gather as much documentation as possible and consult with a qualified attorney who can help you navigate this complex situation and protect your rights as a beneficiary. Keep in mind that there may be time limits for taking legal action, so it's best to act promptly once you have sought legal advice.

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