Lawyer Monthly - November 2022

expert. The expert compares the contested document with exemplars. Therefore, the attorney should retain documents such as greeting cards, letters and grocery lists penned by the decedent to deliver to the expert. The expert will scientifically examine the pressure used by the author on the page, the flow of ink, lettering techniques and consistency of flourishes to determine if the document is authentic. Another factor may be the witnesses to the will. The will may be self-proving if statutorily defined language is present in the document, or may have to be authenticated in court by the witnesses. What actions should the holder of an estate take to reduce the likelihood of disputes arising after they pass? I encourage my clients to express their desires directly to their family members early. If they are reluctant to say out loud what they put on paper, then I ask them to write a letter to be read with the will or trust explaining their reasoning for their distribution plan. I do not encourage clients to rely on the No Contest Clause. While helpful, they do not dissuade legal action by a child who was omitted or left very little. In these cases, that child will feel that they have nothing to lose by suing. I also encourage clients to get a full estate plan, including powers of attorney for health care and finances. Taking the time and effort to clarify one’s wishes means that the family members are less likely to argue an inheritance plan based on fuzzy memories of conversations at the dinner table. Do you have any advice for less experienced lawyers who may be looking to add estate litigation to their practice? I recommend maintaining good relations with other lawyers. One of the reasons I gravitated toward probate and estate litigation is because I tend to see the same practitioners regularly. Some days we are on the same side of the fence, others not. I do not take their opposition papers personally. The probate court is generally a court of equity. In the San Francisco Bay Area where I practice, each probate department has its own way of calendaring and processing cases. The rules of civil procedure are followed, but each county may have different procedural requirements, so it is good to be familiar with the local rules. EXPERT INSIGHT 49 About Amanda Ebey Amanda Ebey is a San Francisco probate attorney Amanda Ebey providing legal counsel on estate litigation, contested wills, elder abuse, personal injury and real estate law. She has helped her clients to recover millions of dollars in damages and regularly aids Bay Area residents in planning for their future or retirement. Contact Amanda Ebey Founder Law Office of Amanda L. Ebey, PC 870 Market Street, Suite 782, San Francisco CA 94102, USA Tel: +1 415-989-8070 Fax: +1 415-834-0964 E: I encourage my clients to express their desires directly to their family members early.

RkJQdWJsaXNoZXIy Mjk3Mzkz