Introduction to Probate, Estate, & Trust Litigation
First of all, we are sorry for your loss. However, it is a sad day when family has to fight family in probate litigation, but this is the way it is and you require strong, relentless representation. We are all about strategy…it will save you money and minimize heartache.
Probate litigation is a very complex area of law also called estate litigation or trust litigation; they all mean the same thing. If this is your first introduction to probate litigation, we will help you understand it. What makes estate litigation complex is that much more than in any other area of litigation in which we practice, emotions are involved and the opposing parties often have deep-seated hostilities against each other as they are often family members who, of course, we raised together.
We have been involved in many different types of litigation, not just probate litigation; we have a solid background in understanding the litigation process and what is required. That is one part of the ‘game”. The other part of the game is understanding probate law and the concepts that define what it takes to win a case. We have dealt with a number of scenarios in estate litigation and most of them end up being involved with issues of:
What makes probate litigation more difficult than family law (which you would think is similar in that families are involved) is that in family law, the game has been played in every possible way for decades now and to a certain degree, the unpredictability is predictable. In estate litigation that is not the case and before probate, a lot of things have often happened, money and assets have been hidden, people have been manipulated, and the level of sophistication is much more complex than often found in family law cases.
When it comes to probate litigation, however, is the fact that these opposing parties know each other, in most cases, since birth. Not only have they got deep-seated hostilities (or this case would not exist), they also know where “the bodies are buried”…who cheated on taxes, who cheated on their spouse, and various other facts that are many times used to gain an unfair advantage in the probate litigation. This is where we shine, as we not only work in litigation, but also in high-level negotiation, where we have been involved with resolving kidnappings, extortion, blackmail, career destruction, and a host of marital disputes. The second part of what makes this complex is that there is a lot at stake. Oftentimes, after a trust litigation case, one party will leave with a lot of money, sometimes life-changing, and the other side will end up with large legal bills.
The stakes are high and that is when you require an estate litigation firm that:
- Understands human nature,
- Is strategic in its approach,
- Shows you what to do so you can cut costs, and
- Delegates non-lawyer matters to paralegals and legal assistants to cut even more costs.
The emotions are what make these cases very complex. An estate lawyer needs to know when to push and when to hold back. Unlike business litigation, there is no black and white here.
Our ultimate goal is to come to a resolution that would allow the parties to be on speaking terms after the case is over. We cannot begin to inform you of how many businesses have been destroyed because of the hostilities amongst siblings after an estate litigation case has ended. These are companies that their parents spent a lifetime building up, destroyed due to the emotions that took place during the case. The most important issue here is to be aware of this and to strategize accordingly; the worst thing you could do would be to ignore it, as it does exist, and will affect the outcome of your probate litigation.
Understand what this area is all about and whether probate litigation is the way to go, or maybe a less expensive route such as high-level negotiation would help. We look forward to partnering with you in your success!