ACTION TIPS - ESTATe,trust & fiduciary matters
Consult with counsel without delay.
Assemble all important documents including, for example, documentation related to the will, trust or fiduciary instrument, drafts and executed wills, trust and powers of attorney, contracts, email and text communications, settlement documents, drafts of documents, deeds, insurance policies and any other document you may have related to your dispute. Even if a document may not seem important at the time, it may become so later.
Keep copies of everything and ensure that electronic documents are not destroyed or discarded.
Assemble a list of witnesses and make notes as to what those witnesses know and their involvement in the matter. Think outside the box when developing a list of witnesses. For example, in a case involving a trust dispute, investment advisors, accountants and other professionals involved with trust assets may have direct or indirect knowledge that is important to your case.
Maintain and assemble a detailed timeline of the dispute including, if applicable, the date and manner in which the potential dispute was first identified; the date and circumstances surrounding the drafting of pertinent documents; the date and circumstances surrounding changes to personal relationships with children, spouses and care providers; telephone calls, email communications, text messages; and anything else pertinent to your dispute.
Do not discuss your case with or provide recorded statements to insurance companies or to third parties until you have consulted with counsel. If you have already provided such a statement, take detailed notes to the best of your recollection, as to what was said.
Print out paper copies of all related email communications and preserve them electronically. Change all passwords as appropriate. Preserve all records and take steps to prevent the destruction or loss of records, including any electronic records. You do not want to be later accused of having destroyed evidence.
Take steps to print out paper copies of all email, chat and text messages (including, if possible, all information pertaining to the date, time, sender and recipient) and preserve them electronically. Text messages and chats are particularly difficult and, in some cases, impossible to retrieve once deleted.
Do not post comments or other information regarding the dispute on social media. The use of social media in such situations can be dangerous and detrimental to your interests. If posts have already been made (even if you think the information was posted with limited access privileges), print out paper copies of the postings; preserve them electronically; but take them down and adjust your security settings to make your postings private. You want to preserve evidence and not later be accused of destroying it.
If you are aware of any information posted on social media by others that pertains to your dispute, print out paper copies of the postings and preserve them electronically. Such postings are often deleted and there may be no means of retrieving them electronically.
The above are just some examples of ways in which you might protect yourself in the event a dispute arises. An attorney will be able to advise you as to additional means and how best to accomplish your objectives.
Consult a dispute resolution firm such as Jacobs & Barney to evaluate your case, advise you as to its strengths and weaknesses, assist you in your decision-making processes to resolve the dispute and work towards a satisfactory and cost-effective resolution to your problem.