Q: Considering hiring a new attorney. Been waiting 4.5 yrs for a probate resolution. Does this sound out of the ordinary?
My father passed about 5 years ago without leaving a will. My brother and I hired an attorney several months later to handle probate. If I understand the laws of California correctly it would mean that the additional properties my father owned upon passing should have been divided among his spouse and his 2 biological children. His spouses name did not appear on any of his properties however that did not stop her from selling some things upon his death. My brother and I do not have an amicable relationship with our stepmother. she refused to cooperate in any way which forced our hand into hiring an attorney. Here we are 4 1/2 years later and our attorney states that it is still "caught up" in probate, we have been paying her an hourly rate to handle this case. I regularly drive by a duplex my dad owns that sits vacant. My brother and I are frustrated and can't seem to get a straight answer from our attorney. Can we hire a new attorney? What would you suggest? THANK YOU
A: Stating that your case is "caught up" in probate is a very weak explanation. Your attorney should be giving you better status updates than that. At a minimum, you should be getting copies of everything that is filed in the case, whether filed by you or somebody else (such as step mother), so definitely ask for that. If that does not give you a good sense of where you are, then take that stack of papers to another attorney for a second opinion. Be prepared to pay for the second opinion even if you don't hire the new attorney. If you do decide to hire a new attorney, the stack of papers will be extremely helpful. It is what I would want if I were taking over a case.
John B. Palley agrees with this answer
A: You should most definitely talk to a new attorney. Find a highly experienced California probate attorney. It seems odd to keep a duplex vacant during probate. I would rent it out. Probate should take a year or less unless there are some unique factors/reasons for keeping probate open. Typically 4.5 years would only happen if there is fighting, lawsuits, etc.... Good luck!
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