Probate Case Settles for Close to $2M

Probate cases are never easy because the key person is no longer there to explain why they did what they did, and it often takes quite a bit of digging to determine the chain of events. Michael Hackard was faced with a challenging case in which a elderly woman was hospitalized, diagnosed with dementia, then moved to an assisted living facility. Within 24 hours of her arrival, this woman drafted a will that was all of 17 words, leaving her entire estate to her great-grandson, though she referred to him as her grandson and by the incorrect name. Her son came to Mr. Hackard to help challenge the will on the basis that she lacked the capacity to understand what she was doing at the time, and that she was unduly influenced by the great-grandson. Unfortunately, Mr. Hackard’s client was in prison for murder, which the defense claimed was the reason he was disinherited. Mr. Hackard came to Focus Graphics for help outlining the case in a way that would make it easy for a jury to understand. He provided a complex timeline of events from which we were able to create an animated presentation incorporating multiple dimensions including actions, time, and mental status. This allowed Mr. Hackard to clearly convey the timeline and the system failure that led his client to contest the will. Mr. Hackard knew that they faced risks going to trial, but they were prepared to take it to a jury. The defense apparently felt that they couldn’t take that risk past mediation, and settled the case.

“A 2021 case, mediated just short of trial, needed a compelling illustration showing facts supporting a will maker’s cognitive impairment. I asked Roger Dodd to come in pro hac vice in this case. Roger is recognized throughout the country for his high standing in the profession, his forty-plus years of experience as a trial lawyer, and his education of trial lawyers both in the United States and internationally. It was a wise choice. We turned to Focus Graphics for help creating a demonstrative that would be clear and concise. The graphic was done on budget, on time, and on message. Our client’s case settled for nearly $2 million at the mediation for a much greater percentage of the estate than ever offered before. Focus Graphics does not work for just personal injury cases, but for ‘boring” probate matters, as well. Focus Graphics is never boring…they stand out in any and every case.

~Michael Hackard, Esq., Sacramento, CA Hackard Law 

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