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 first are often complicated by facts not revealed in a hypothetical posed by a member of the public. You should always consult directly with your attorney in order to ensure the issue is thoroughly discussed and that the proper course of action is taken.
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.
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.
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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.
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.