In most cases, if you have a well prepared estate plan, you can avoid the costly, stressful, public, and lengthy probate process. Without an estate plan, or in situations where disputes arise over your assets and affairs, you will likely end up in the probate court at the mercy of a probate judge and/or jury. Fortunately, when a trip to the probate court cannot be avoided, there are several things that you can do to obtain the best possible results in the court.
First, you should prepare for your visit to the probate court by assisting your attorney to the best of your ability. Your attorney will let you know what information he or she needs in order to prepare for the hearing. You should also be prepared to assist your attorney at the hearing as necessary.
Second, you should understand how decisions are made in the context of probate court proceedings. Every case does not go to trial. In fact, more often than not, cases are settled through a variety of alternate dispute resolution methods. These methods typically include facilitation, mediation, or arbitration.
Third, you should dress conservatively if you have to appear in court. Fourth, you should behave in court, unlike what you often see on television courtroom programs. Lastly, you should be honest with your attorney and with the judge and/or jury.