Thank you for your reply.
Wow, that's a lot of issues! Given the value of assets, a full probate would have to be done. With so many various issues-the home, var, rental properties, and mineral rights, you would be well served to have a probate lawyer help you. Even in less complicated estates, with fewer assets, probate involves a lot of paperwork and deadlines that are easy to overlook, so in my opinion, it's best to have someone who is familiar with the process handle it. Generally, lawyers are paid a fee out of the estate.
If the will cannot be located, then it will be presumed that your father didn't have one, and his estate will be distributed according to state law, which may or may not equal his wishes. Unfortunately since a will doesn't have to be filed until a person passes away, all I can tell you is that you'll have to look around his house and see if it can be located among his papers? Maybe in a personal safe? It's rarely done, but sometimes lawyers will keep the wills for a client --if you know who his lawyer was, or can find anything from a lawyer in his house, it may be worth calling them to see if they have it.
With the items that have been taken --nothing should be removed right now from the house. An executor for the estate will have to be appointed for the estate who will be in charge of handling everything -gathering up assets, notifying beneficiaries, preparing an inventory, notifying any creditors and paying any last debts (which it sounds like he may have few or none), etc. The executor can also ask the court that items taken be returned to the executor and provide you with an accounting of everything they took.
I'm not sure if this answers your specific question(s)? Your only initial question was whether you needed a lawyer. We're not permitted to recommend specific lawyers or firms on this site, but if you like, I can give you some resources to help you find a lawyer. Just let me know.
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