My divorce lawyer passed away, do I still need to pay his overcharged bill?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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My divorce lawyer passed away, do I still need to pay his overcharged bill?

My divorce lawyer just passed away, i have paid him most of the bills in the past, but
some charges I had questions disagreement, so I have not paid yet about 2000 All
the work he has done for me was for the purpose of preparing the document for the trial.
Now he passed away, I have to find another lawyer to re-start everything, all the legal
sessions with him are now wasted. Do I still need pay the remaining questionable bill to
his estate his law firm is currently closed ? I understand, in general I still need
to pay the debt to the deceased, but the balance I owe him I believe has over charged
substantially, plus all the money I have paid him now is completely a wast. I
appreciate your advice and help.

Asked on December 27, 2017 under Family Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Forget about the fact that you have to start over: that is irrelevant to this situation, is not the lawyer's fault (he did not plan or expect to die then, we presume), and does not invalidate any work he did. If the lawyer did the work, you have to pay him--or in this case, his lawfirm or his estate (estate if he was a sole practitioner). If you believe the bill was overstated or overcharged for the work done, you could offer to pay only what you think is fair: if they accept that, that will resolve the matter; if they refuse, you could let them sue you for the money and try to prove in court that the work was overbilled in some way (billed for more hours than it took; billed for work that was flawed and unusuable; etc.).
Of course, this is only an issue if the estate (since his law firm is evidently closed) comes after you for the money; if they forget about it, it's a non-issue. So wait to see if they even seek the money; if they do, try to settle for what you think is fair; if they won't settle, decide if you'd rather pay or fight in court.

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