Do I Have a Real Case? | Probate, Estate & Trust Litigation
- February 8, 2019 - Estate Litigation,
Hackard Law is a Northern California-based law firm that focuses on probate, estates & trusts litigation. I’m the one who is ultimately responsible for taking a new case. It’s an interesting and an imperfect process.
We are not magicians – we know that we can’t magically turn a fact pattern into a viable legal case. Fact patterns are only part of the picture – if we delve deeper, they’re stories of real family traumas and strained personal relationships.
Being spurned by a parent – even a parent with Alzheimer’s – or taken advantage of by a stepparent or sibling is not something generally shrugged off. When I speak with new people, I can often hear the hurt in their voices.
I know that I need to know more than the emotional case. For example: Who are the participants in this family trauma? Parents? Grandparents? Siblings? Caregivers? Aunts? Uncles? Third party interlopers? What are the assets? Where are the assets?
It’s one thing to be at battle over a Bay Area house and another to be engaged in a tug of war over a $25,000 IRA. What beneficiary shares are we talking about? All of an estate? Half of an estate? One sixth of a trust? It matters.
Finally, if we take the case how is it progressing? We’ve taken cases that looked really strong at the beginning, just to see them evolve into a morass of evidence ultimately giving little credence to a plaintiff’s claims. More than once have we’ve been settling an estate dispute where it becomes really clear why a parent or grandparent disinherited their child or grandchild. The truth is that we don’t always end up liking our clients.
On the other hand, there are times where as a case progresses, I see the clients in a different light. A case that looks viable at the beginning may really strengthen as evidence is gathered and more facts are uncovered.
A single mother tells her story. An abused childhood. Early pregnancy. Struggle to raise her children alone. Success as a mother. As an employee. I think about what I would have done if I’d walked a mile in her shoes. Would I have been as heroic? Maybe not. We’re not perfect.
I’ve heard judges say that even the strongest case has no more than a two-thirds chance of winning at trial. The converse- even the weakest case has a one-third chance of winning. That’s an interesting observation. Clients don’t always want to hear it. They might think that they’re case is different; their case is the exception. Well, no, it really isn’t.
Sometimes during or after a trial or mediation our clients end up not liking us. It happens. Other times heartfelt appreciation is expressed by our clients and their families. We’re human – it’s gratifying to hear appreciation.
We’re engaged in helping people and practicing our profession to the best of our abilities. Sure, we have our own quirks, strengths and weaknesses. We help people who – like us – have their own quirks, strengths and weaknesses. We go forward the best that we can.
We work to take substantial cases where we think that we can make a significant difference and there is a wrongdoer who can be made financially accountable for their wrongdoing.
If you’d like to speak with us about your case call us at 916 313-3030.