If you are embroiled in Orange County trust litigation, preparation is essential to emerging from court with your desired outcome. Still, gathering evidence can be tricky. There are several steps your California trust litigation attorney must take for evidence to be admissible and to compel the opposing party to cooperate with your requests.
At Gokal Law Group, we have been helping people navigate trust litigation and achieve their desired outcomes for decades. Learn how you can prepare for litigation in our blog.
How to Prepare for Orange County Trust Litigation
To gather evidence for your trial, there are several steps you must take to support your case. Still, gathering evidence requires adhering to a specific protocol.
From requests for admissions to Informal Discovery, here is what you need to know to prepare for California trust litigation.
Requests for Admissions
When preparing for Orange County trust litigation, the first step is to submit Requests for Admissions (RFAs.)
You send RFAs to the opposing party requiring them to admit or deny the truth of a statement or verify a document is real. RFAs are important to getting context and laying the groundwork for your case.
“Recently, we saw a case with two brothers. One was the trustee for their parent’s estate, and he squandered all the trust’s assets on risky investments. His brother used an Request for Admission to prove he served as a trustee for that period giving us clear proof of the trustee’s fiduciary violations,” explained Harry Wallace, a Senior California trust litigation lawyer with Gokal Law Group with over 35 years of trust and probate litigation experience.
An RFA will look something like this:
Request For Admission No. 4 – “You became the trustee of the Robinson Family Trust on March 25, 2020.”
Then, the party will admit it is true, reject it as false, or detail what parts of the RFA they don’t know and clearly state they tried getting the answer, but there is not enough information to determine if it was true or false.
Requests for Production of Documents
Next, submit a Request for Production of Documents. This stage is crucial for gathering evidence to prove a breach of fiduciary duty and falls under the category of Discovery during Orange County trust litigation.
This phase is when you request documents (including electronic records) from another party relevant to the case. In some situations, you can also leverage this request for site visits and to collect physical items to supplement documents and other evidence.
“In the case we are discussing, we submitted a request for records that specifically proved mismanagement of trust assets. They said they didn’t have them, so we had to subpoena the bank to obtain them,” added Harry.
The request will look like this:
Request for Production No. 2 – All bank account statements for the Trust Account from March 26th, 2020 to the present.
After requesting production, the party who received it must either agree to provide the records, say that they cannot comply or provide them, or object to the request.
The next step in preparing for Orange County trust litigation is preparing questions you send to the other party that must be answered in writing. There are two categories of interrogatories:
- Form interrogatories cover general, background information
- Special interrogatories cover case-specific information
These requests will look like this:
Interrogatory No. 3 – State the purpose of the $2,364.89 withdrawal from the San Diego branch of the Service Credit Union made on May 5, 2021.
The next step in Orange County trust litigation is working with an attorney to prepare questions for the depositions. Depositions are when you question the opposing party through live testimony in a setting resembling a trial.
California law limits oral depositions to seven hours of actual questioning, though the court will sometimes grant more time if necessary. Depositions offer your California trust litigation attorney the opportunity to:
- Exhaust their knowledge of case-relevant issues
- See how the opposing party handles pressure
- Evaluate how likable they will come across
- Assess the opposing attorney’s abilities
“People generally hold depositions in conference rooms with a court reporter present to record everything said. This transcript can be used as evidence and to challenge witnesses who change their minds,” explained Harry.
If your case requires gathering information from a third party who is removed from the case, a subpoena is the next step of Orange County trust litigation. Three types of subpoenas exist:
- Record subpoenas
- Deposition subpoenas
- Records/testimony subpoenas
“In preparation for the case we have been discussing, we subpoenaed the advisor the trustee used when investing. We also had to subpoena the bank and investment firm for records to use as evidence,” elaborated Harry.
We refer to the final component of preparing for Orange County trust litigation as informal discovery. During this type of discovery, your California trust litigation lawyer can call witnesses not represented by counsel to discuss facts about the case.
Orange County Trust Litigation Attorneys
It doesn’t matter what task is at hand – preparation is the foundation for success. When litigation is looming, you have to get to work and ensure you enter the courtroom fully prepared and equipped with everything you need to achieve your desired outcome. With a premier trust litigation lawyer, you can rest assured that you will be ready for the courtroom.