As suggested by previous commenters here and on money.se, I hired a lawyer to help with issues with my late brother's estate, so that I could

  • sell property we co-owned (joint with right of survivorship)
  • try to get all or part of the money that he borrowed from me.

His widow does not intend to open the estate or give me a copy of the will and would not tell me the name of the executor (only that it isn't me and isn't her.)

I hired an attorney recommended by the bar association of the county where my late brother resided. He did get me the name of the executor but did not get me a copy of the will despite saying he would do so. I asked twice.

What he has done instead is request to handle my father's (larger and more complex) estate, with me as executor. My brother was its executor, but he never opened it. I said I wanted to deal with my brother's estate first, but the lawyer has persisted.

Now his secretary is leaving phone messages asking me to fill out the executor forms and charging me $75 (1/4 hour) for every unanswered phone call.

I would like to unhire this lawyer, and would like advice on how to do so.


1 Answer 1


In general, one can dismiss a lawyer at any point by simply informing the lawyer that no further services are wanted or will be paid for. If the lawyr and client have a contract, then any provisions on the contract about termination would need to be followed, unless the lawyer was in materiel breech.

It is probably best to make the notice of cancellation in writing, but this is not mandatory unless a contract calls for it.

The lawyer can still bill for cervices performed before the cancellation. If the lawyer has already ordered and contracted for services (or goods) to be used in representing the client, and those orders cannot be cancelled, the lawyer may be able to bill for them.

Whether discharging the lawyer is wise is a very different question. There might (or might not) be good reason for dealing with the father's estate before that of the brother. But the client can choose what legal services s/he wants, even if the choice is unwise.

  • Great advice. No contracts were asked for or signed. I do plan to hire a lawyer to deal with my father's estate. but that's premature right now, because my brother's widow is not interested in giving me my father's will nor any relevant financial records my brother possessed.
    – Dev1
    Mar 25, 2022 at 20:33

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