We recently assisted a client who was attempting to overturn his father’s will. The father and his son (our client) had had a falling out and were not speaking to each other at the time the father executed his will. However, at some point after the will was executed, the father and son made amends. By the time the father died, the two had become extremely close. As is often the case with wills once executed, the father hadn’t changed his will to reflect the updated reality of his relationship with his son, leaving our client specifically omitted from the will.
After investigating the facts, we realized our client stood very little chance of contesting the will in court successfully. He had paid us thousands of dollars to review the facts of his case and the governing law, but ultimately we could only report to him that he didn’t have a case that would succeed in court. Naturally, he was very disappointed and upset with us. But as we shared with him the facts as we uncovered them, he began to understand the reality of his position as the court would have seen it. Instead of pursing an action in court, we recommended that he allow us to bring in an experienced mediator to help resolve the case.
In mediation, we learned that our client’s sisters were unhappy being in a lawsuit and that they were willing to share some of the estate with our client to resolve the matter. Our client ended up receiving his father’s home as a resolution. While he did not receive his third of the estate as he had wanted, he did receive the family home – an outcome much better than spending thousands of dollars in court and receiving nothing. Further, opting for mediation also kept the family out of court and kept open the possibility that the siblings would reestablish a relationship later on.
As attorneys, it is important to know (and to advise our clients well) that all outcomes are not possible. What is possible is to understand and appreciate how your facts fit with the law and make the best decision you can on that basis. At Hughes & Associates, it is our job to help you find the best outcome for your facts, even if it isn’t the outcome you first came in hoping for.