Can My Probate Attorney Quit Without Providing 30-Days Notice?

Asked about 1 year ago - Orange, CA

I hired a friend-personal injury attorney at a reduced rate. I am executor and sole beneficiary, assets consist of 1 home/1 car, will not contested, so this should be an easy probate. However, there have been many costly setbacks and I’ve had many problems with my attorney. An article stated that emails are not the best form of communication w/attorney, so put my requests in writing and sent it by certified mail. My attorney received my request today and I guess he didn’t like that I made formal requests. He stated in a phone text that he is going to send me a substitution of attorney and I can handle the rest of the probate myself. Is he required to give more notice until I find another attorney? Petition the court to resign and continue to represent me until I find an attorney?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Peter S. Myers

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This sounds familiar . . . perhaps the same poster. Regardless, the rules of professional conduct require an attorney not abandon a client. But if they are not a specialist in estate planning and probate law, they are probably quite frustrated with the difference in procedure relative to, for example, p.i. law. Many lawyers of other specialty areas think that probate is a bunch of judicial council forms and not very specialized. So it appears, from here, that it dawned on him it probably was not an engagement he was equipped to undertake. Now he is trying to get out quietly.
    He technically is still your lawyer until you either sign the substitution or have another lawyer step in, or he files a motion to be discharged - and succeeds (not always a given). But instead of thinking of it in terms of what punishes him the most, it is generally best to think of it in terms of what benefits you the most. I would suggest you find a new lawyer and have them negotiate a fee division based on his obvious lack of interest in the case. He may simply want his costs back (which would be appropriate, unless he has caused further damage to you). Given the firmness in the real estate market, his delay probably did not cost you - in fact, you may have made money. So your best course would be to trot the package over to a specialist in estate planning/probate and have them look at it and advise you.

    This is legal information only and not meant to provide legal advice. Many issues that seem straightforward at... more
  2. Gregory Paul Benton

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I believe that this matter hs been asked already. What good what it would do if your attorney can't handle the matter correctly. You can go out now today and hire another attorney if you want and then that new attorney would provide your old one with a notice that he is no longer the attorney of record. You need to hire an experienced probate attorney. My office can help.

  3. Charles Adam Shultz

    Contributor Level 19

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This isnt litigation and I believe you previously stated you were the sole beneficiary. He can resign and you can do this alone but I would recommend you hire a probate attorney. As you see, you get what you pay for. Have a reputable attorney represent you. Thomas Hankin on Avvo seems like he is knowledgeable. I believe he is in Newport Beach.

    The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or... more
  4. Christine James

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The courts will work with you. I know you are probably overwhelmed, but he really is doing you a favor. You should have an experienced probate attorney assist you and you should have no problem finding one who can help you. Do you have a court hearing set? What is the last thing done in the probate? Generally unless there have been court dates that have been missed, you will be fine. Hang in there.

  5. Kelly Scott Davis

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I don't practice in California, but I know that in some jurisdictions under the Court Rules once an attorney has made an appearance in a probate they can not withdraw without the court's premission which won't be granted unless there is a substitute attorney or an extraordinary circumstance. That requires notice and a hearing.

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