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How do I discontinue our relationship with an estate lawyer?

Bonita Springs, FL |
Filed under: Estate planning

We met briefly one time with a lawyer to discuss options for updating our estate documents. We filled out his standard estate questionnaire (with no binding clauses or signatures), paid his fee for that initial consult, and said we intend to provide him with the actual documents to review. However, we decided our personalities weren’t good matches. We signed no written agreement for his continued services. We want to notify him immediately that we’d like to stop using his services. How do we best tell him of our decision—have we created an inadvertent verbal agreement?

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Best answer

    Since you never signed an agreement for fees or services you should be under no obligation to pay additional fees. As the other attorneys have stated, you are free to start or end a relationship with an attorney at any time. You state that you would like to notify him that you'd "like to stop using his service." Other than the initial consultation, you never started to use his services. Most attorneys have a "free" initial consultation (typically limited to 1 hr.). You paid for your consultation and are moving on. If you feel obligated to do so, send a brief letter or make a short call to his office. You should also ask that he not contact you in the future.
    As to your current documents, please seek out a new estate attorney to assist you. It is important that your documents are reviewed and updated as necessary at least every 5 years. Find a new attorney on AVVO or ask a friend for a referral.
    Good luck.

    This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Florida Attorney practicing in areas of Estate Planning, Elder Law, Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, and Business Law. The information provided is for educational purposes and not intended to provide legal advice or to create an attorney client relationship. Please contact me at or call my office should you like to discuss your Florida legal matter further. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.

  2. You may disengage with an attorney at any time for any reason, even if you had signed a retainer agreement. A simple call or email telling him that you do not wish to use his services is sufficient in your case.

    This answer should not be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship, and is for informational purposes only.

  3. I agree with Mr. Criscione. You can "fire" an attorney at any time. However, this may not free you from liability for any fees/expenses that have already been incurred by your former attorney. You should definitely contact him immediately to inform him of your decision. I would recommend that you make a phone call then follow that up with an email or letter. Office tel: (561)245-4723 Website: The answer provided does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is the answer provided intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The information provided by the questioner is insufficient to serve as the basis for meaningful legal analysis. It is the questioner's responsibility to seek legal advice from an attorney who has had the opportunity to familiarize herself with the full details of the questioner's case. By providing these answers, I am not obligated to respond to any subsequent communication from the questioner. If the questioner would like me to serve as their legal counsel and render legal advice, they will have to sign a retainer agreement. The questioner is free to contact my office for a complimentary 30 minute consultation.

  4. I agree with the prior responses. You should not feel bad about this. It happens ALL the time. Your lawyer will not be surprised if you simply never call back. It is the nature of estate planning work. You can, if you wish, simply call and let him know that you have decided to "put things on hold," for now. That is probably all that you would need to do. If the lawyer has paperwork in his file that you provided and would like to get back, you could follow up with a letter requesting it, or make a trip to the office to collect it.

    James Frederick

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.

  5. It appears that you did not make an inadvertent agreement and you have no obligation to contact him further.

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.

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