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BlogWill Contests

Practical Tips for Will Contests – Part 4

By J. Brian Thomas July 13, 2020

In a four-part blog series, we explore some practical tips for parties preparing to file a will contest or defend against one. In this final post in the series, we focus on the endgame for most disputed probate cases. There are, in essence, two potential conclusions for every case: judgment or settlement. Studies vary slightly, but some report that as many as 90% of lawsuits conclude by settlement rather than being tried to the point of a judgment or appeal. What this tells us, and we find this largely true in our practice area, is that nine out of ten of our cases will involve a settlement resolution.

Nobody likes the idea of settling. And most of our clients particularly do not like to think of compromising early in the case when their confidence may be high. The very word “settle” draws up images of taking less than you want and liking it. Clients want overwhelming victories, and to be sure, their attorney wants to deliver one. But each dispute has two sides, and slam-dunks are a pretty rare occurrence in any kind of lawsuit. As committed as one side is, the opposite side holds the very same resolve. Preparing for a compromise is less about preparing to lose, and more about remaining open-minded to the reality of any kind of dispute. Probate litigation, like any other sort of lawsuit, takes time, effort and money. Sustaining it places burdens and strains on both sides that are physical, mental, emotional, and economical. Many clients acquire a tunnel-vision that only permits them to focus on the winning conclusion that they have imagined. Smarter clients recognize that the process is every bit as straining for the other side, and that there may be opportunities along the way to leverage a conclusion that both sides can live with.

At Caldwell, Bennett, Thomas, Toraason & Mead we work hard. We are determined to bring our best effort every day. While skill, talent, and knowledge are necessary for producing good results, our passion for helping our clients fuels truly excellent performance. Contact us to learn more.

Read the other tips here:

Practical Tips for Will Contests – Part 1

Practical Tips for Will Contests – Part 2

Practical Tips for Will Contests – Part 3

Brian has committed himself to a single area of practice since he received his law license. Even while excelling in one of the most rigorous trial advocacy programs in the country, Brian worked one-on-one with some of the state’s foremost authorities on trusts, estates and fiduciary law. Brian cut his legal teeth in both Houston and Dallas, representing individuals in probate and guardianship cases where the stakes are at their highest. He understands that many people experience probate, estate or guardianship matters only once or twice in their lives, making his role as counselor all the more important. Experience, confidence, and dogged determination are critical when a client wants their story presented to the Court. Brian believes that every case has the chance for resolution, but that clients should be ready and professionally equipped to fight for their own success.