I had a cousin, whom I never met, that died a couple years ago. He lived in a broken down trailer in Phoenix when he died and left no family or real friends. He was surviving in a whirlpool of poverty which is not that uncommon these days. The funeral home actually posted a notice for anyone that knew him to contact them. I hadn’t known he existed until he passed away.

A law firm latched on to settling his estate and tracked down relatives, including a cousin I do know who filled me in about the death. People signed a percentage away in exchange for this far away lawyer to handle a case that is, in my case, playing out 2000 miles away. No one expected much. No one questioned the process. That is, until the notice for the first hearing went out 2 years later.

In the notice, I received, was a list of charges, in small print, that had been Xeroxed and mailed off as a matter of routine. Like most people, I opened the envelope, thumbed at the pages of charges involved in settling the case and was going to pass it off as legal mumbo-jumbo until a couple billing items caught my eye.

See, the legal side of the estate settlement was taking around 8,000 of a 10,000 value. Seemed like a lot so imagine my surprise when I noticed charges for sending their own staffs emails, or a charge for depositing a check that had been given them, a charge at 100 dollars an hour everytime someone called to inquire how the case was proceeding, or 30 minutes to review a Geico insurance bill. There were calls because over the nearly 2 year span, that is the only way you got an update but not once was anyone informed about charges being attached. I also noticed a double billing and began to wonder, what was going on here.

I had two weeks to get a letter to the judge to object and my letter got there. I pointed out some of the above and told the judge that in my opinion, these guys were looting a dead man. I don’t care who gets the money, (most of us were getting a whopping $25), but it seems wrong that just because the guy is dead, died alone, and was poor, a bunch of what I would consider crooked lawyers perpetuate this atrocity. I told the judge, that these people didn’t need to be before his bench as representatives but as defendants for robbing a dead man. I also questioned how many other families had been preyed upon in this manner.

Apparently, the Judge read my letter because he postponed a settlement. He ordered the parties involved to contact me. One party sent me a fee schedule. Somehow that is to make it right. My lawyer avoided contact with me until someone else emailed him to say I wasn’t budging. He called complaining it wasn’t enough money to make a fuss over. When I explained to him it wasn’t about the money, (a point he kept going back too), he wanted me to release him as my lawyer. He isn’t getting off that easy.

We’ll probably lose because the system in the long run, only does care about the money. Life has no respect here. It is always about profit. In the meantime, the Judge, a couple other officials, and whoever else I can think of will get another letter pointing out what I believe to be fraudulent behavior and restating my objections to giving these people a dime. Give it to charity and let Mr. Puckett have a measure of respect in his grave.

Categories: Everyday Life, Politics, travel, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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  1. My lawyer brother tells this great joke, “Do you know what they call a hundred lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?”

    “A good start.”

    Then another. “Do you know why Jersey has all the toxic waste dumps, and California has all the lawyers?”

    “Because Jersey got first pick.”

    The sad truth is that lawyers are people- some good – some bad. Ambulance chasers and the sort that you ran in to, are the lowest of the low. Preying on people’s grief, and using their confusion and emotional turmoil to pick their pockets is sure to earn each a special place in Hell.

    Thanks for sharing.

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