MCLE SELF-STUDY ARTICLE ROADBLOCKS ON THE ROAD TO PROBATE TRIALS
Written by Matthew Owens, Esq.* and Golnaz Yazdchi, Esq.**
Without a solid grasp of pre-trial procedure in probate court governing the way in which trials are set and under what circumstances, the probate court can feel like the wild west with traps for the unwary. While it is true the probate court has wide discretion concerning the manner in which it manages and sets cases for trial, there is an established body of case law that provides direction and some level of certainty on when and how probate trials will be conducted. Some recent cases have placed additional roadblocks on the road to probate trialsâfor example, expanding the probate court’s power to compel mediation and forfeit the rights of those who fail to participateâbut that road is still navigable. The goal of this article is to explain the impact of those new cases, as well as pre-trial procedures generally in contested probate matters, so the reader will feel comfortable steering a contested probate matter to trial and overcoming any procedural hurdles along the way.
The authors hope that this article will be useful to estate planners who want to try cases, civil litigation attorneys who want to try probate cases, and experienced trust and estate litigators who want an update on recent case law impacting probate trials.