Anyone who needs to keep up with the latest news in California trust ligation should take note: the California court system has published its statistics for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Of particular note to anyone currently in or considering trust, probate, or estate litigation are the numbers below.
Despite Orange County, San Diego County, Placer County, and Sierra County failing to provide complete data to the courts, these numbers show the vast disparity between counties in terms of the number of probate cases that go to trial (either a jury trial or a court trial) and even simply the number of probate cases filed. For example, Humbolt County has only 315 probate cases opened but 248 of those went to trial--the highest rate of probate trials per capita in the state. Santa Clara County, however, has the highest percentage of probate cases end up in trial--82.69% of all probate cases in Santa Clara result in trial.
Closer to home, Sacramento County sees 47.59% of all probate cases go to trial. In contrast, El Dorado County sees only 2.19% of all probate filings go to trial. Yolo and Sutter both see less than 1.5% of trust and estate cases go to trial.
What do these statistics mean for you? If you are looking at contesting a will, contesting a trust, filing a Probate Code Section 850 Petition, filing a Probate Code 17200 Petition, or any other challenge to a will, trust, or estate in California, these statistics can help you determine how your case will be handled by the courts. For instance, if you were to file a challenge to a trust in Santa Clara or Humboldt, approximately 80% of those cases go all the way to trial; therefore, you should expect your case to go through the entire gamut of litigation concluding with a trial ruling. If, on the other hand, you were to file a will contest in Sutter County where less than 1.25% percent of cases filed go to trial, you can expect that the court will put pressure on you to resolve your case without a trial (through mediation, arbitration, informal settlement discussions, etc.). If you are looking to challenge a trust or will in Sacramento County, you should expect less than a 50/50 chance of your case going all the way to trial. In other words, in Sacramento County, you should expect a better than 50% chance of your case settling prior to trial.
Although there are exceptions to all the rules, a thorough review of these numbers when you file your trust litigation or estate litigation should give you an expectation of how your case will be handled by the courts in that particular county. If you're facing tough trust litigation, know that Hackard Law is dedicated to protecting client interests as priority number one. Call us at 916-313-3030.
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10630 Mather Blvd.
Mather, CA 95655