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How Long Does a Trust or Will Contest Take in California?

Generally, it will take at least twelve to twenty-four months for a trust or will contest for the case to proceed to trial.  Of course, this amount of time can change depending upon the various factors of a specific case.  

Some of the factors in a case that may cause it to take longer are:

  • The availability of the court;
  • The time it takes to obtain evidence from third parties;
  • The availability of witnesses; and
  • Motions being filed by a party that the Court must decide before the case can proceed.

After a petition is filed in Court, the hearing is generally about 45-70 days later, depending upon the Court's schedule.  At the initial hearing, the Court determines if there are objections to the petition.  If there are no objections, the Court will grant the petition by signing an order.  If there is an objection by someone but the objection has not been filed in writing, the judge will usually set some deadlines.  The Court then sets the next hearing date for 60 to 90 days.  During that time, the parties can begin the process of gathering evidence and deposing witnesses.  It will generally take the parties at least 90 to 180 days to gather all of the evidence they need to proceed to trial.  At some point the judge will schedule a trial date.  That trial date can be 30 to 120 days from the date the trial is set and is dependent upon the availability of the lawyers, the parties, their witness and the Court's schedule.

Most cases never proceed to trial.  The case can settle through negotiation between the parties, mediation or settlement conference.  Settlement of a case can occur at any time both parties are able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.  The case can settle shortly after being filed, during the trial or anywhere in between.

Many people think the case will be over in a few months after they file a petition in court.  This is generally not true.  It takes at least 1-2 years, and sometimes longer, for the case to be resolved through a trial.




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