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Are my Probate and Personal Injury Attorney's Ripping me off? What are my options?

Deltona, FL |

Dad died Jan 4, 2013 from Ped vs Car. Settlement was reached of $50,000 before i was even notified of my dads passing which was 6 weeks later. I am next of kin but my grandpa was notified. Grandpa signed funeral arrangements but dad had no funeral , just cremation. He also hired the other atty's. Hospital charged $7500 so i paid that and PI Atty said i owed the Funeral home $5000 even though i never signed that agreement. $10,000 came out of PIP and went to hospital. 25% of the PI atty payment went to the probate attorney since she referred and now shes demanding another $7000. After all that it leaves me ith. Little over $13,000+ . How is this legal and fair ? I never agreed to that settlement . This lady was a city employee and was not tested for dui at the scene . Help?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. First -- I am so sorry to read of your loss. Nothing make those situations easy.

    As for your questions about attorneys, sit down with both of them and get your questions answered. You will be best served by developing a list of concerns and bringing it with you. If either attorney is unwilling to meet or does not fill you in appropriately, you need to look elsewhere for the best guidance you can get.

    Good luck.

    In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.

  2. Please accept my condolences on the passing of your father. If you feel intimidated by those professionals who are involved in this and you do not get answers to your questions, you have other options, including obtaining your own legal counsel who can help you sort through this. If all else fails, you should report these facts to the Florida State Bar Association to see whether or not any ethical or legal duties were breached by the attorney.

  3. Who is the personal representative in the estate? That person would have to sign an agreement with both attorneys regarding fees. The personal injury attorney would likely take 1/3 of the applicable settlement, plus costs. Probate, unfortunately, does cost extra and can get quite complicated and expensive quickly. Again the PR would have signed with the probate attorney. The PR would have also had authority to sign and execute a GR for the $50K settlement you mentioned. As for the referral fee of 25% that is coming out of your attorney's portion, not yours, so it shouldn't really matter much to you. If you are the PR you certainly have the right to have an accounting of the fees/costs from the probate attorney, but I am guessing from the sounds of it you or the PR probably retained counsel on an hourly fee of $250-350/hr. The other odd issue is the fact the lady that struck him was a city worker? Was this on the clock? Depending on the D/A the City could have between $100-200K in statutory limits. In any event, if you are not the PR, the probate estate must notify you when they are about to close the case. IF you do not sign a full waiver, they will have to send you a final accounting at which time you can object to the same. Be sure you recoup the hospital/funeral expenses you paid as you would be in priority to regular creditors to the estate and good luck.

  4. I'm sorry for your loss. This is a difficult time for anyone suffering from the sudden loss of a love one.

    Given the limited details of your question, I recommend sitting down with at least one of the two attys representing the estate or both of them if possible. Ask for clarification from the people who are representing your and your Father's interest. Then seek counsel with a local auto accident attorney if you are still not understanding what or how the case was concluded to your satisfaction.

  5. Wrongful death settlements require court approval and that requires notice to all "survivors" and creditors. The division also requires court approval or consent. That means you were given notice or the settlement is not binding. The PI attorney will charge and be approved to charge a fee, typically 1/3 to 40% of the entire award. Additionally, the probate lawyer is due a fee, which can be $2,500-$5,000 or more if there is a very large estate.

    This is a summary based on incomplete facts. You should not rely on it as legal advise. No attorney-client relationship is intended to be formed. You may call me 772-562-4570; email me, or visit my website