When a person with significant assets dies and there is unclarity surrounding their estate, a dispute can arise. In this blog post, we overview some of the common issues that can arise in a jury trial. As an experienced Dallas-based probate attorneys, we use the motto of ‘be prepared’ to describe the process of preparing for a jury trial.
What Juries in Probate Cases Teach Us!
At Burdette & Rice, PLLC, our attorneys are well-versed in preparing many types of high-stakes cases for trial. From winner-take-all will contests to fiduciary lawsuits, to guardianships where the future of an incapacitated loved one is on the line, we live with the Boy Scout motto of being prepared. Many cases settle before trial begins, and those that don’t are frequently tried to a judge. But those that can’t settle and those not tried to the bench invariably end up in front of a jury of ordinary North Texans – and that’s where there simply is no substitute for being prepared for the unexpected.
Over the next few months, we will revisit the topic of the jury trial in probate and fiduciary litigation through a number of blog posts. We’ll take it in stages, and talk first about the importance of selecting a jury. The process of picking jurors, or as many view it, deselecting undesirable jurors, is a critical part of any jury trial. Understanding the potential for biases and prejudices before a case even begins is key.
We’ll discuss the importance of narrative in the context of a jury trial. Every case presents an opportunity for a good story. Our practice area, in particular, is filled with themes that resonate with almost every prospective juror – love, death, generosity, greed, honesty and dishonesty often play central roles in the stories that we tell to the jury.
Next, we’ll highlight the importance of clarity. Even the best story told to the best jury isn’t going far if it isn’t clear. Organization and effective communication skills lie at the heart of this element.
Finally, no blog series on juries would be complete without a discussion on advocacy. Juries are empowered in our probate litigation cases. They are ultimately responsible for finding, or not finding, evidence of facts that form the foundation of our entire arguments. If we fail to effectively communicate our argument to the jury, we waste the opportunity to gain an ally later on when the jury deliberates amongst themselves.
While it is hoped that after a person dies, they have their affairs in order and/or their heirs are able to politely and calmly come to an agreement about their assets, this is not always the case. In probate litigation, things may “go to trial,” including a jury trial. In this blog post, our attorney outlined some of the basic issues surrounding a jury trial. As Dallas-based lawyers focusing on probate litigation, we shared his ‘big picture’ view of how and why being prepared is so important. If you or a loved one may be facing a probate dispute anywhere in the North Texas region – whether in Dallas, Plano, Frisco or other nearby cities – reach out to one of our probate attorneys for a no obligation consultation.