What to do when an attorney refuses to give me a copy of what I signed?

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What to do when an attorney refuses to give me a copy of what I signed?

I signed documents, that I was not given the opportunity to read, I was in my early 20s at the time, it was after my dad passed away. I think they were some sort estate documents for my Grandma’s estate that my 2 uncle’s urged my my 2 siblings to sign without reading. We are all wondering now, what those papers said b/c something got ‘messed up’ with the paperwork now need us to re-sign them. I don’t want to sign anything this time, without a copy of what I signed last time. The attorney or my uncles refuse to give me a copy. I cannot ask my grandma b/c she is 87 years old I don’t want to stress her out. Please help

Asked on March 11, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Nebraska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It's difficult to get documents you signed after the fact: the only way to compel the production of documents (that is, force someone to give you a copy) is in litigation, or during the course of a lawsuit. Unfortunately, the legal mechanisms to force someone to give you a copy of a document are only available in litigation.
However, ahead of time, when they need your signature, you have more leverage: no matter how much they pressure you, you can and should refuse to sign unless and until you have a chance to read the documents and are given a copy to take home with you. They cannot force you to sign something--you must agree to sign. So do NOT sign *anything* without reading it; and if you read it and don't understand it, refuse to sign until you can bring a copy to a lawyer to review with you; or if you read it and don't like, simply refuse to sign entirely. The law presumes that you read, understood and agreed to anything you sign; you are held to what you sign. Therefore, do not sign when you don't understand or don't agree with what you are supposed to sign.


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