Today’s blog is the last in my series addressing preparation for trial in a contested passing. The items discussed this week were certainly not meant to be, nor were they, exhaustive. Preparation necessary for a trial with narrow issues, few documents, few evidentiary concerns and an uncomplicated Estate will obviously be different than a case with numerous issues, voluminous documents, evidentiary issues and a complicated administration. The critical aspect of trial preparation is that it begins at the beginning of a case; not literally, but certainly in the sense of being mindful at pre-trial stages of the evidentiary considerations and how the evidence is to be marshalled and presented.
Aside from ensuring that you have appropriate resource materials at the trial (such as texts dealing with the rules of evidence, the Rules of Civil Procedure, Probate Practice etc.), it is important to have prepared your opening and closing statements (to the extent possible), have prepared the necessary law regarding the substantive issues in dispute (casebook, factum), have addressed costs submissions (organizing offers to settle, preparing a Bill of Costs etc.), and have a trial binder with you at trial for your own use.
A trial binder usually contains the pertinent materials that you would like to have at your fingertips during the trial (ie. pleadings, orders, witness lists, witness summaries, answers to undertakings, listing of the types of evidence objections, offers to settle etc.). The trial binder will allow you to have quick access to information that you might only have a few minutes or less to locate and quickly review.
While most contested passings settle at a pre-trial stage, if a trial is necessary, it might well be won because one party was more prepared than the other.
Thanks for reading this week. Have a great weekend.