What Are the Potential Outcomes in Probate Litigation?
When involved in a will contest, it’s not unusual for the parties to be blinded by their flaring emotions. Whichever side of the dispute you may be on, it is important to understand that the outcome will not be determined by principles of general fairness. Litigation can be very expensive and wind up draining valuable assets from the estate. Understanding the potential outcomes can help you decide whether you want to proceed to litigation or pursue some other option. Before things reach the point of no return, you may want to consider discussing your case with an experienced Boca Raton probate litigation attorney.
The Will is Deemed Valid
The first possible outcome in a will contest is that the will is deemed valid by the court. This means that the estate will be distributed exactly as outlined in the will.
It is important to understand that almost all will contests are heard by the judge of the probate court. They are not heard by a jury. As a result, you are unlikely to persuade the judge to rule in your favor on the basis of simple fairness. Instead, the judge will focus solely on the law and the facts of your case. As a result, if your lawyer believes that your case has fundamental weaknesses, litigation may not be your best option. This is why you should discuss your case with a Boca Raton probate litigation attorney before burning any bridges.
The Will is Deemed Invalid
The other option in a will contest is that the will be deemed invalid. If this happens, the assets of the estate will be distributed according to Florida’s intestate succession laws. In this situation, you may find that you won your case, but are left out of the distribution by operation of law.
In some situations, it may be possible for the court to deem only a portion of the will as invalid, leaving the rest of the will intact. While this usually yields a better outcome than intestate succession, you should discuss what it may mean for you with a Boca Raton probate litigation attorney ahead of time.
The final option you have is settling your dispute with the other parties to the will. This may mean giving up some of your claims but is often preferable to the expense of extended litigation without any guarantee of success.
However, it is important to note that you can’t decide to settle your case unilaterally. You will need to persuade the other parties to accept a settlement in lieu of proceeding to trial. For this reason, we strongly recommend against entering into litigation in an attempt to pressure the other parties into accepting a compromise. Instead, settlement is often the best option when there are complex legal issues at stake and the outcome is unclear. If it gets to that point, a Boca Raton probate litigation attorney can help negotiate a settlement that is fair and reasonable.
Facing a Will Contest? Contact a Boca Raton Probate Litigation Attorney Today
At Ellis Law Group, we understand that sometimes litigation is simply unavoidable. If you are facing a will contest that you can’t resolve, talk to us about your options. Call us today at 561-910-7500 to schedule an appointment with a Boca Raton probate litigation who can help you weigh your options.