What to do when a Spouse Passes Away Before Completing the Divorce Process

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“My friend’s wife passed away recently. She had filed for divorce and paid an attorney to handle the divorce. She never finished giving the attorney all of the information required before she passed. My friend and his mother-in-law have both asked for the fees to be returned, but neither has received any answer or information from the attorney.

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There was no foul play involved (I was the one who actually found her body) and there has been no other problems with the estate.

I am trying to help my friend and would very much appreciate a reply.”

The estate is entitled to an accounting from the attorney’s office. The executor of the estate should contact the attorney’s office. The attorney is obligated to the wife (now her estate), and it could be considered malpractice for him to communicate with your friend or someone contacting the office on his behalf, as he is still the “opposing party” in the divorce action.

The executor should forward a copy of the death certificate to the attorney’s office so that the attorney knows that his client has truly passed away.

If after this the attorney is still uncommunicative, call the state bar association of your state and ask them what to do.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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