According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of litigate is “to seek resolution of a legal contest by judicial process, rather than settle.”
Litigators help individuals, groups or businesses take legal action against someone else in a civil dispute. A litigator can also represent you if a legal suit is brought against you.
In estate planning, litigation suits often take the form of challenges to the validity of a will (probate litigation). For example, family members who are omitted from a will may sue to try to get invalidate the will. The probate process can become especially sticky if there are multiple marriages, family rivalries, step-children or family dysfunction.
While litigation can create solutions to perceived injustice, the process is not as simple as having your lawyer jump straight into the courtroom. There are a significant number of steps that must be done on your behalf to make sure your case will hold up once it gets to a courtroom.
The first step involves investigation of all of the details surrounding the case. The litigator may do this on their own or hire outside professionals (investigators, financial specialists, experts etc.) to help take statements from witnesses, interview people who can back up your claims, identify written evidence that exists to support your case, etc.
When sufficient information has been accumulated, the litigator will file paperwork with the courts, exchange information with other litigators and ensure that all sides have the material that is required of them. Meetings, legal conferences or even hearings may be arranged so all parties can share their information.
Negotiation or Trial
Sometimes, both sides will agree to a settlement to avoid going to trial. However, this is not always possible. If the litigation process ends up in a courtroom, the litigator will be able to argue the case in front of a judge or jury. Duties surrounding this process include jury selection, making the opening statement, questioning witnesses, providing evidence to support your case and making the closing argument.
In the event the end result is not what the client had hoped for, the client can choose to appeal the court’s decision.
The litigation process can last weeks, months or even years, so it’s important to choose an experienced, trustworthy attorney – like the Denver litigation lawyers at Brown & Crona, LLC – to handle your case. If you are facing an estate problem in Denver, contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to meet with our experts.