You may have some sense of how estate planning and trust litigation is complicated, but you may not know what the process can entail. The goal of this process is to gather documents, including financial records, medical records, discovery documents, and deposition transcripts.
The goal of this process is to make sure that you have everything that you need to adequately present your case. There are eight basic stages or steps to trust and estate litigation, and here’s an overview of what that process typically covers. It’s part of the reason you need a California estate attorney to represent you.
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Investigation & Research
It makes sense that the first step involves research and investigation. You and your attorney need to know what all is involved in the litigation. The primary focus is around the decedent’s information and the details around the disputed trust or estate, but this process could include interviews and contact with witnesses to further determine the facts in the case.
In this stage, you and your attorney will file official documents, which layout your position in this case as a petition. Based on the filings, a trial date may be set and all parties involved in the case may be notified.
This stage in trust and estate litigation involves further efforts to prove the veracity of the case, with each party making requests for documents, subpoenas, and other admissions. The goal is to gather further details that will support the case.
In this stage, you and your attorney may be required to attempt a mediation or negotiation process to (hopefully) settle the case before it moves forward to trial. If you’re not able to negotiate a settlement even after the judge forces you into mediation, you’ll simply move forward with the litigation process.
Expert Witness Depositions
As part of the trust and estate litigation process, you and your attorney may seek out expert witnesses who will testify to the decedent’s mental capacity. The statements by expert witnesses can be an important consideration in the case. The depositions may involve testimony from an estate planning attorney to offer further details about the case.
While trial preparations are just part of the process, it’s something that you won’t really have to worry about too much. Your lawyer will typically take the lead on this prep, although you may need to offer last-minute input as needed as you near the trial date.
Trust and estate litigation may reach trial, which can last a day or it could last for weeks. It’s difficult to say until the trial actually begins, but there’s also the change that the trial may skip days or even weeks, based on the court’s schedule and other mitigating factors.
Even when the judge rules in your trust and estate litigation case, you still have the option of appealing the judge’s decision. In most cases, you typically only have a chance of the appeal being upheld if you and your lawyer can prove that there was something fundamentally wrong with the case. Typically, that might mean the judge might have made a serious error.
Next Step: Schedule a Consult with California Estate Attorneys
The litigation process can be long and complicated, which is why judges sometimes try to encourage mediation and negotiation. There are scenarios where no compromise is possible, so the process moves forward and the judge must ultimately determine the resolution of the dispute.
With so much at stake in some of these trust and estate litigation disputes, it’s more important than ever that you consider the California estate attorneys who can best represent your interests and give you a real shot at winning your case, even against tough obstacles.
Find out how California estate attorneys can help you with your trust and estate litigation.