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By: Scott Grossman on April 19th, 2018

California will contestants should not talk to other parties in their case

Should you speak to a family member on the other side of a will contest in California?

When a will contest gets underway my clients always want to know whether they have to speak with their brother or sister who is on the other side of the case.  The answer is no you don’t.  In California, once the will contest start, you are a litigating party and represented by an attorney. While under representation of an attorney, you should not speak with any other party to the will contest.

When Your Attorney Needs To Speak To Another Party width=

Where things can get interesting is when your attorney needs to speak to another party in the will contest. If your brother or sister (or whoever it is that’s on the other side of the will contest) lacks representation by an attorney then expect your attorney to speak with that unrepresented party. On the other hand, if that person is represented by an attorney then your attorney should speak with the other party’s attorney. Your attorney should not speak with them.

When An Opposing Party Lies About Their Representation

Unfortunately, some who engage in a will contest, or says they’re going to engage in a will contest, are dishonest. They tend to be untruthful about whether they will represent themselves or hire an attorney.  It is not unusual for someone who faces with the time, expense and burden of being a party to a will contest to vacillate about whether or not they’re going to hire an attorney.  This can result in that person telling your attorney they’ve hired their own attorney, when in fact, they have not.  This then leads to the uncomfortable situation where the party seeks some information from your attorney and your attorney responds by telling the other party they can only speak to that party’s attorney.

My firm had one unusual twist on this recently. One of the opposing parties to a will contest was himself a lawyer.  My client’s brother, the lawyer, who lived out of state, told me that he was hiring a local attorney to represent him in the will contest.  He even gave me the name, address, and telephone number of the attorney he claimed he hired.  A short time later my client’s brother then requested a significant amount of information about the case from me.  I explained to him that I could only speak with his representative lawyer.  This resulted in a very heated response accompanied by some unfounded threats.  No information was provided to my client’s brother.  Perhaps the best part of this whole experience was later learning my client’s brother had never actually retained another attorney. As a result, he missed his deadline for filing his will contest. If you need an attorney to represent you, call us today. You can also request our free book Winning the Inheritance Battle for more information.