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Swift Justice: Lawyer communication and rent-to-own scams

Justice SystemRentalsCBS Corp.

Dear Jackie,

Our family is in the process of trying to get my grandmother's estate finalized. She had a lawyer and everything was going good until now. We had her final income tax done, but the issue now is that the lawyer is not keeping us in the loop. Now there is additional paperwork, and he is not responding to our calls and is dragging out getting things done. We are just trying to get the paperwork done so we can close out the estate. What can we do, besides pester him, and should we seek out a new lawyer to finalize everything? -- Amanda from Coopersburg, Pa.

Hi, Amanda,

More than anything else, failure to communicate is the number one issue that gets lawyers into trouble with their clients. This is unfortunate. I would send him an email or letter and ask him what is taking so long. Also ask why the estate is not closed and how much longer it is going to be. You might also write that you are frustrated by his lack of communication. You probably don't want to tell him that, if he doesn't get back to you, you will report him to the state bar of Pennsylvania. Lawyers hate to hear that. If he doesn't respond in a timely manner, that would be the next step. If all else fails, and hopefully it won't, get another lawyer. Unfortunately, you will have to pay for that lawyer to get up to speed.

Dear Jackie,

Back in 2012, I was searching online for "rent to own" homes. I came across a company based in Georgia. I contacted them, and one of their representatives told me about the rent-to-own program and others. She stated that they worked with a private financing company that could do 105 percent financing at a 4.99 percent interest rate. She stated that her company had a 100 percent track record of getting their clients approved for that financing. The caveat was that there was a $5,000 deposit that they would use for such things as appraisals, property surveys, etc. I asked if they were 100 percent legitimate, as I did have some reservations about them and did not have that money to lose. She just kept assuring me that they had a 100 percent approval rating. Fast forward, there has been lie after lie. The financing company apparently went under. I paid the $5,000, and now the rent-to-own company is stating that they can only refund $1,500 and that I have to deal with the financing company for the other $3,500. I've received two repayments from the RTO, the second of which I had to hound them for and they kept telling me lies that they had sent it when they really hadn't. My question is: Who is legally responsible for paying me back? My check was made out to the RTO. I have saved all of the emails and have a copy of the cashier's check that I made out to them. What type of lawyer should I contact if my case has merit? -- Eileen from Pompano Beach, Fla.

Hi, Eileen,

It all depends on whom you entered into the agreement with. There is a contract isn't there? Your intuition was right on as far as the legitimacy of this company. You should have followed it. Without knowing more, if the check went to the rent-to-own company, then they owe you the money, unless you have a document that says otherwise. Here is the problem you have: It will cost you money to hire a lawyer to sue them. With $3,500 at issue, it would be a good small claims case. You may be able to find a lawyer where the RTO company is based and see if they can take them to small claims court for a fixed fee. Otherwise, you could end up spending more money on attorney's fees than is in dispute. Report them to the consumer affairs division of the state of Georgia at and to the Better Business Bureau.

(Jackie Glass is a lawyer and former district court judge from Las Vegas, Nev., who is the new host of CBS's daytime legal affairs program, "Swift Justice With Jackie Glass." Visit for more information, local show times and to submit your legal questions to Jackie.)

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