Can a lawyer take over after the person who hired lawyer dies?
2 attorney answers
The answer depends on a few facts that aren't clear from your question.
If your father named this attorney as his personal representative, then the attorney can do everything you've described without your consent. But if that was the case, you probably would not be posting this question.
Assuming your father named you as his personal representative in his will, then the attorney certainly could not charge you for work that you did not hire him for. This applies to ANY attorney. The attorney who prepares the will does not have any more privilege, right, or authority to perform legal work for a personal representative than any other attorney. If the attorney prepared the petition to open probate and appoint you as personal representative and you did not ask this attorney to provide these services, then you don't have any agreement or a legal obligation to pay him. If there is some grey area over what you asked him to do, then he may be able to receive payment for his services on "equitable" grounds (fairness, not legality).
All scenarios are fact specific, and are many facts that could change this answer. This attorney may have a pattern of imposing his services on people and even performing legal work in states where he is not licensed. It would definitely be worth speaking with a local attorney about. Best of luck~
You contacted the attorney
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If the lawyer himself was nominated as executor in your father's will, the lawyer could start probate proceedings on his own. If the lawyer was hired by the person nominated as executor in your father's will, the lawyer could begin a probate for that person (his client).
Your best bet: talk to a lawyer near where the probate is happening to assist you . At a minimum, the lawyer can assure you that things are happening as they should, and/or help you figure out how to request the notice you're likely entitled to.
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