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My husband and I filed a chapter 13 about a year ago and recently paid it off 100%. I started reviewing our files after looking at online mortgage monthly statements because I couldn’t completely unstand all the fees and charges. My lawyer requested I pay all her fees upfront which we did.

I asked my lawyer about the mortgage fees and asked her for a detailed explanation. I had to ask her for it because the mortgage company will not send me the information and said to contact my lawyer to request that information.

A month before sending in the complete payoff the mortgage put in a motion for a release of stay. My lawyer said the only way the mortgage lawyers have agreed to withdraw the release if I pay them $850. I asked my lawyer to provide the detailed explanation of fees and she told me to just pay the money and if I want to review or dispute any mortgage charges/fees I could hire a new lawyer after the chapter 13 is over. I insisted that we were going to continue to send money to the mortgage company if we don’t understand what the fees are for. At that point, my lawyer sent me an email canceling our meeting to discuss my questions and she said she’s going to file a withdrawal from my case the next morning.

I have two questions:

  1. What are the possible effects of continuing to send additional funds to a mortgage company for questionable fees and charges? Does this waive possible objections to those charges?

  2. What is an appropriate response to an email from a lawyer that says she’s going to withdraw from my case, because I would like to understand the additional fees and charges my mortgage company is charging (over and beyond the plan payment/payoff)?

My concern is that by sending money for the fees that I do not understand and have not agreed to means we agree to them and will not be able to address once the chapter13 is closed.

  • I have edited the question to make Q1 less of a request for specific legal advice. Unfortunately I don't know bankruptcy law well enough to answer. – David Siegel Dec 14 '18 at 1:34
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Some portions of your inquiry are confusing, as in "I insisted that we were going to continue to send money to the mortgage company if we don’t understand what the fees are for". It is unclear why you would continue to send money without understanding the reason for fees, especially since you purportedly sent "the complete payoff" already.

What is an appropriate response to an email from a lawyer that says she’s going to withdraw from my case, because I would like to understand the additional fees and charges my mortgage company is charging (over and beyond the plan payment/payoff)?

Rather than replying to the lawyer's email, it is more important that you timely file in court a response (with 2 or 3 copies) to her motion to withdraw and that you attend the court hearing (if any is scheduled). Don't forget to also mail your attorney a copy of your response.

In the response, you will need to argue that your lawyer's refusal to adequately address your inquiries is in violation of the rules of "professional" conduct (with which attorneys are supposed to comply). By granting the attorney's motion, the court would improperly release her from pending obligations she has with respect to you. For instance, Rule 1.4 of Michigan RPC states:

(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and comply promptly with reasonable requests for information. [...]

(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

(note: other jurisdictions in the U.S. have equivalent rules, so you will need to refer to their corresponding label)

By pushing you to pay another $850 without actually explaining you the details of the "settlement" with mortgage company's counsel, your lawyer clearly is failing her duty to reasonably inform you of the matter for which you retained her.

Therefore, your response should substantiate that a granting of the attorney's motion to withdraw ought to be conditioned on the fulfillment of her obligation to provide you with reasonably sufficient information which you as her client are entitled to obtain. It will help if you attach to your motion & brief an exhibit showing that the mortgage company actually directed you to inquire of your lawyer the clarification(s) you are pursuing.

Once you take care of that issue, I encourage you to seriously assess (and proceed accordingly) whether your attorney's misconduct merits being reported with the entity in charge of disciplining lawyers for their legal malpractice.

If I were knowledgeable of bankruptcy law, I would be happy to address your first question. I can only suggest you to do some research on leagle.com to become acquainted with how courts decide bankruptcy issues. Be sure to set parameter "Search By Court" to "Federal Bankruptcy Court".

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