What can I do if my attorney won't return the money to me? 10 Answers as of April 10, 2015

This is regarding a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. My attorney received funds from a creditor who garnished my wages. But my attorney has not returned the funds to me.

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Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
File a complaint with your state bar. Every state bar is very good about resolving this type of issue.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/10/2015
Law Office of Andrew Oostdyk
Law Office of Andrew Oostdyk | Andrew Oostdyk
Did you pay your attorney in full? If not, he may be holding onto the funds for this reason. If you are current on attorneys fees, make a request in writing for the funds. If he doesn't respond, you may need to file a complaint with the state bar.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 4/9/2015
The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
Send a request in writing and if he does not respond then file complaint with the bar association.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 4/9/2015
The Law Offices of Ryan F. Beach, PLLC
The Law Offices of Ryan F. Beach, PLLC | Ryan Beach
It would be helpful to know the reason your attorney provided for why he or she won't return the funds to you. There may be several reasons why the attorney is holding the funds. When I recover funds that were garnished prior to the bankruptcy filing, I always hold the funds in my IOLTA account until the case has reached a point where it is safe to return the money. Garnished funds or preference payments are part of the bankruptcy estate and must be properly and fully exempted to avoid liquidation by the Trustee. If the funds aren't properly and fully exempted, the Trustee can make a demand for the funds, or the unexempt portion of the funds, for distribution to the creditors. To avoid potential problems, I hold the funds until it is reasonably certain that the Trustee isn't going to make such a demand or challenge any of the exemptions taken. If your attorney has already provided you an explanation, take that explanation to another attorney to see what their opinion is on the matter. It may be that you can make a quick and free phone call to another bankruptcy attorney to better understand what is going on. If you haven't received an explanation, ask for one.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 4/9/2015
Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
Report the attorney to the U.S. Attorney's office in your district.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 4/9/2015
    Tokarska Law Center
    Tokarska Law Center | Kathryn U. Tokarska
    Your attorney legally is not allowed to put that money (I assume it arrived by check) into his/her own bank account because it does not belong to the attorney. The check should have been deposited into a Client Trust Account. Once the check clears, the attorney can write you a check from the Client Trust Account for the amount. Contact the attorney and make arrangements to pick up the check or ask why he/she is refusing to give you the funds? Does he/she believe that you owe them legal fees? If so, for what specifically.. Bankruptcy fees are typically fixed, with certain tasks included in the initial fee. There are a few additional tasks that can be charged extra after the case is filed, the question is whether this was spelled out in the agreement and whether they performed such tasks. If you don't owe them any fees and the attorney refuses to give you the funds or ignores your calls and messages you can and should contact to the California State Bar and file a complaint. The Bar takes this kind of stuff seriously and will follow up on your behalf.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/8/2015
    Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
    Complain to the state bar association.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 4/8/2015
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    I would need details. Is the return part of the bankrupt estate to be fairly distributed to your creditors? Discuss this with your attorney directly as opposed to speculation and the Internet.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/8/2015
    Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
    The first thing is to talk with the lawyer. If you still owe him fees, for example, he may have a right to keep the money. (Although it's a harder question if the money was deposited in his trust account, which is very much a 'hands-off' disposition.) If he cannot show you that he has earned the money, you can do either or both: sue him in small claims court for the return of the part he has not earned; and file a grievance with the Office of Lawyer Regulation (address is in the phone book or call the Clerk of the Supreme Court, whose number probably does appear there). Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 4/8/2015
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    I am sure there is more to this story. Bring this up at your 341 meeting or let your bankruptcy trustee know about it.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 4/8/2015
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