St. Mary's Law Journal


Joyce Moore


This Article primarily focuses on the practical problems facing attorneys and courts when evaluating and proving up a will or trust in contested cases. The focus extends further into the special procedural and evidentiary rules applicable to these actions, the use and misuse of summary judgment proceedings in these cases, and some observations regarding developing trends and strategies in will and trust contest litigation. Admittedly, this area of practice is a melting pot of presumptions, exceptions, threshold hurdles, capacity qualms, evidentiary issues, strategic clauses, and countless other headache-inducing legal issues. Yet, attorneys must diligently juggle all of them while also maintaining their clients’ confidence and trust. By addressing a gamut of probate concerns, this Article aims to enable practitioners to overcome these issues successfully. The suggestions within this Article are designed to provide practical steps attorneys can implement in their daily practice. The key is preparation, and this Article highlights the ever-changing, broad scope of probate quandaries. Practitioners can stay ahead of the game by using effective and efficient strategies. In summation, this Article strives to raise pertinent issues in will and trust contest litigation, provide pragmatic approaches to these issues, and thus provide guidance in handling these often-complex problems. While no process is perfect, these tools can potentially mean the difference between a probate litigator’s dream and an estate planner’s nightmare.


St. Mary's University School of Law