What happens to a personal injury suit if the client dies a few days after signing an incomplete retainer and no work has been started or completed? 5 Answers as of April 29, 2015

If client had dementia and other cognitive issues, wouldn't a doctor's permission be needed for client to sign any legal documents?

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Law Offices of Robert Burns
Law Offices of Robert Burns | Robert Burns
If it can be proven that the signatory lacked mental capacity at the time of signing then the signatures were voidable. I don't know that such can be proven. It may be that it's too late under law or equity to disregard the signatures; I am not further going into that. There be law must be a retainer agreement if the sum was over $1,000 that dictates what is to be done with an unused retainer. Unless you are the decedent's representative you need to but out and get the representative taking care of business.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/29/2015
Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
The estate of the deceased client is still entitled to medical and other out-of-pocket expenses, but not pain or suffering. The personal representative (executor, administrator or successor trustee) can cancel the retainer if wished, but the attorney might claim a fee for the time put into the claim.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/28/2015
James M. Chandler | James M. Chandler
It would most likely be an issue for the court to determine ie legal capacity to sign.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/28/2015
Law Offices of George H. Shers | George H. Shers
When a person dies, any cause of action for pain and suffering disappears. If a person is not mentally competent to understand a document, his signing it is not valid. A Dr. can not give permission; the only function the Dr. serves is to testify whether the deceased had the mental capacity to understand what he was signing. If the retainer agreement was not signed by all parties involved or nothing was done in performance of the agreement so as to make it effective, then the agreement is not binding. Based upon the limited facts you provide, it seems there is no binding agreement.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/28/2015
Callahan & Blaine APLC
Callahan & Blaine APLC | Robert Lawrence
If the client dies before completing the retainer agreement, then you will need to deal with the client's administrator or trustee of the estate, and see if they want to retain you to prosecute suit on behalf of the decedent. Some causes of action will lie regardless of whether the decedent had dementia, and the estate's administrator will obviously independently retain you, so the issue of impaired cognition won't come up (or shouldn't) in the context of retention.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/28/2015
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