Depositions In Florida Probate Cases
In the best-case scenario, probate is simple. The beneficiaries of the will and the personal representative of the estate already know what the will says. The personal representative can easily locate the beneficiaries and creditors. No one responds to the public notices that the law requires the personal representative to publish when the estate opens for probate. The decedent’s financial documents are in order, and the personal representative can easily file the decedent’s final tax return. When things go this smoothly, it only takes a few months for the estate to settle. Things are much more complicated when there is a dispute over the validity of the will, such as when one of the heirs accuses another of unduly influencing the decedent to change his or her will. An Orlando probate lawyer can help you if you want to challenge a will that is currently going through probate or if you are the personal representative of an estate that is experiencing a challenge.
What Happens at a Deposition?
Challenges during probate contain many of the same elements as civil lawsuits such as business disputes and personal injury cases. The person challenging the will and the personal representative of the estate have a chance to present evidence to the court to show why the will is or is not valid. This may require them to present the testimony of witnesses.
In civil cases, witness testimony often takes the form of depositions, which are question and answer sessions that take place before the trial. A lawyer summons a witness for a deposition when the lawyer thinks that the witness will provide information that supports the lawyer’s client’s case. The witness goes to the lawyer’s office for the deposition and takes an oath to answer truthfully; telling the truth at a deposition is as much of a legal obligation as telling the truth at trial, and lying during a deposition is the crime of perjury. The lawyer who summoned the witness asks him or her questions, and then the lawyer for the other party cross examines the witness. A court reporter records the deposition and provides a copy of it to all the lawyers involved in the case afterward.
Why Would You Need a Deposition in a Probate Case?
Undue influence is one of the most common reasons that the court would order a deposition in a probate case. It might be useful to depose the person being accused of undue influence, so that he or she could explain why the decedent changed the will voluntarily. Doctors who treated the decedent might also give depositions about the decedent’s state of health and cognitive abilities around the time that the decedent changed the will.
Contact Gierach and Gierach About Probate Disputes
An estate planning lawyer can help you settle an estate that you are representing with minimal delays, even if there are disputes and challenges to the will. Contact Gierach and Gierach, P.A. in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.