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My mom has been declared mentally incompetent by the courts. My brother had her sign a retainer for an attorney to represent her when this paperwork was filed. The court had already appointed a GAL. This atty charged almost $2000 to attend the GAL's interview with my mom. Can we ask the court to require the attorney prove that he has an actual contractual relationship with my mom ? And when he can't substantiate that, can we ask to be refunded the nearly $8000 we've already paid him?

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I think the other attorney saw the handwriting on the wall, that he'd have to fight for the funds, and decided to cut his losses. He may also have realized your brother's actions weren't in your mother's best interest and decided to bow out of the family affairs.

It's unfortunate that your siblings are so active on this issue; I have a feeling that they're not involved in her care as much as they should be.

Hang in there; I think you're getting closer to moving forward and past the sibling involvement.
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Thank you for your response. We are actually back in court tomorrow morning. It was supposed to be cut and dry, with the Judge finalizing the guardianship as permanent and accepting our motion to dismiss the extra attorney. (he contacted my attorney this afternoon and said that he is stepping down, and won't even be at the hearing tomorrow. Frustrating, because it was his request at the last hearing that caused the Judge to grant a temporary guardianship with a two month review.) Anyway, my attorney has advised that I can pursue getting funds back after we have finished the matters before the court tomorrow. It all comes back to how much money - my mom's money - would be spent trying to settle all of this. In the meantime, my siblings have been texting me non-stop over who's driving mom to court . . . they'd be happy with anyone but me. Sigh. If only the circus would leave town.
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Whew, this does get complicated, doesn't it?

Based on the neurologist's assessment, I think you have a good position to challenge the fees the unwanted attorney is trying to get from your mother. If your mother doesn't remember meeting him and the neurologist believes that your mother lacked contracting capacity, then the alleged contract wasn't entered into with informed consent.

I think the neurologist is the best one to support the fact that it's not a valid contractual relationship, and therefore your mother isn't obligated to pay.

I don't think your brother had the authority to engage the attorney for your mother, as apparently he had none under a DPOA. To me that would also suggest that the contractual relationship wasn't a valid or legitimate one.

I'm not sure whether self dealing would be involved, b/c he didn't have authority, but yet he was acting in his best interests as opposed to those of your mother.

I suspect you may have to have your own attorney support your challenge. It'll be easier than trying to handle it yourself. Attorneys know their ways around contested issues, and you don't want to take a chance that some court rule might be missed and it would jeopardize your case.

You might also consider asking for injunctive relief to prevent your brother (and sister) from engaging anyone else, for anything, with the intention of having you provide funds from your mother's assets.

I also wouldn't rule out a challenge by your brother and sister to your guardianship, so you might want to discuss that with your own attorney.

Hope I've understood the situation correctly.
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The GAL was appointed when I filed to have the court determine my mom's cognitive competency. I have held the POA for my mom for 10 years now, since my father passed away, but it could be revoked if she chose to, unless she was no longer competent to make decisions for herself. My brother lives with my mom in her home. He began barring the door to the home so that my sister and I could no longer visit my mom, and wouldn't answer the phone. I requested that the police perform a well-check visit; they did, and after an hour of knocking they entered the home, only to find my brother and mother upstairs in her room. He didn't want her to talk to police and actually tried to prevent this from happening by stepping between the officer and my mom. The police contacted Adult Protective Services after seeing that my mom wasn't answering for herself, but only as prompted by my brother. They believed that he was exerting undue influence and isolating her from the rest of the family. In this same time frame I received a phone message via my brother's phone where he instructed my mom to leave me a message. She did, then handed the phone back to my brother - neither of them realized that the line was still open. He began yelling, swearing and berating her for leaving the "wrong" message. After filing, but before the court hearing, I was surprised to find that my brother had taken my mom to a psychologist for an assessment. Her report stated that even though my mom confuses my brother with my long-deceased father, she was competent to make her own legal decisions, and wanted to change her estate plan to leave her home and assets to my brother, and make him her POA. My brother located and contacted this attorney, but the lawyer contends that he works only for my mom. I am now temporary guardian, but the lawyer refuses to cease representing her - even though she tells me that she doesn't remember meeting him or asking him to do anything for her. The billings include phone, text and email exchanges with my brother, sister and the attorney; the attorney and an associate attended the interview by the GAL; time spent meeting with the neurologist whom the court appointed to assess my mom (though my mom never asked him to do that). The neurologist believes that my mom has been in the process of dementia for at least a year, based upon the state of her confusion now. She has stated that my mom could not have had the capacity to contract with the attorney on her own, nor to instruct him as to what legal work she wanted him to do. We believe that the attorney has actually been following the instructions of my brother and sister, and therefore my mom should not be obligated to pay for these services.
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Let me see if I've got this straight.

Somehow, some way or another, a GAL was appointed for your mother. Then your brother was responsible for your mother signing a retainer agreement for an attorney. Were either your brother or you aware when your mother signed the RA that she already had a GAL, and if so, what purpose was the attorney to serve? I.e., for what, specifically? For just attending the interview, representing your mother in a meeting with the GAL?

If your mother knew what she was signing (and that's a question depending on the stage of her dementia), and she had the opportunity to read the Retainer Agreement and understood it, then she would have a relationship for whatever that RA specifically indicated it was for.

However, there could be an issue whether she had a chance to read the entire RA (many people sign agreements w/o reading them), whether she understood everything, and whether it was her intention for the attorney for perform the work generally specified. In addition/alternately, did your brother explain to her and did she understand the purpose of retaining this attorney?

What did the $8K represent? What was it you and your brother expected the attorney to do?

I think more information is needed, but I actually doubt that a court at the same level of appointing a guardian would become involved in this kind of dispute. Lower courts might, but I think you'd have to sue.

This is just an opinion; there are a lot of facts that would need to be considered, such as whether or not the RA authorized the attorney to charge up to $8K of work, what that work was, what was accomplished, etc. It might also be raised that if you didn't want him/her to perform any further work, the attorney should have been so advised.
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