Can I represent myself to the court if my mother goes to trial for an undue influence? 29 Answers as of May 10, 2012

I believe my mom was a victim of undue influence. I have filed a caveat to stop the probate of her will. Can I represent myself to the court when the issue goes to trial.

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Geoff Germane, Attorney at Law | Geoff Germane
Of course you can-it is just not recommended because there are very particular legal issues that likely need to be argued for you to prevail, and a trained attorney with experience in that type of dispute (undue influence) can dramatically increase your chances of success (while not assuring it, of course) by knowing what arguments to raise, what questions to ask, and when and how.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 5/10/2012
DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C.
DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
Yes. That would be a mistake, but you can do it.
Answer Applies to: Iowa
Replied: 3/12/2012
Symposium, LLP | Anthony E. Gilles
This is a court-choice question, not a probate court procedural issue. Remember that Superior Court in whatever county the probate is running can stop the probate proceeding in Probate Court at any time. Therefore I wouldn't file a caveat as caveats tend to get read by the Probate judge for the first time as he/she is walking into the probate courtroom. You should act before that or the Superior Court might not temporarily delay the Probate Court proceeding. You should seek an order in Superior Court for a temporary injunction prohibiting the Probate Court's continuation of the caveat and let the Superior Court try the undue influence charge at the same time.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 3/5/2012
Attorney & Counselor at Law
Attorney & Counselor at Law | John Hugger
You can not represent your mother. You can represent yourself. However, if the matter is of some importance to yourself I would always use a lawyer. You do not know the law of "undue influence", what the Colorado cases say about it, or the Court procedures or rules. Consult an attorney ASAP.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 3/5/2012
Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law
Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law | Martin Barnes
It appears to me that: Your mother has passed. A will has been submitted to the court for probate. You believe that the will is invalid because undue influence was a factor in causing your mother make an invalid expression of her wishes in her will. I am not sure what you mean by filing a "caveat" but it sounds as if you wish to contest the will. If that is the case, (it's your mother, you are a potential beneficiary, and you feel that a successful showing of undue influence would improve your position as a beneficiary) then may have cause to contest the will. The answer to the question of whether you can represent yourself in a will contest is yes. However, a will contest is a difficult undertaking. My recommendation is that you seek the advice of an attorney. I regret that at this time of grief you are faced with this problem as well. Best wishes.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 3/5/2012
    Law Office of Robert J. Slotkin | Robert J. Slotkin
    Yes, but it is unwise - particularly if the estate has an attorney. Some lawyers will take these cases on a contingency fee basis so you do not have to come out of pocket.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/5/2012
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    You can, but if you seriously hope to win, that would be a foolish decision, as pro se caveats rarely succeed.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/5/2012
    Pia Anderson Dorius Reynard & Moss | Jason Hunter
    You should be able to represent yourself, but it is not recommended. Even for attorneys, there is a saying that "he who represents himself has a fool for a client." You would likely benefit from having an attorney represent your interests. If an hourly billing arrangement is not acceptable, it might be something the lawyer would be willing to take on a contingency fee (which is an arrangement that might indicate the lawyer feels you have a good case).
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 3/5/2012
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    You can, but I don't recommend it. Undue influence is a dicey claim, usually involving complex evidence problems. Also, any hearing in court has many procedural requirements which will occupy much or your attention, leaving you less able to concentrate on the real "meat" of what is being said.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/5/2012
    Law offices of Ron Webster | Ronald S. Webster
    Yes, you may represent yourself Pro Se, however, I would obtain an opinion from an attorney before starting this venture. The burden of proof will be on you and it is not an easy case to prove.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/5/2012
    The Barrister Firm
    The Barrister Firm | Christopher Benjamin
    You should have filed a contest to the administration of the Estate and I would recommend that you have an attorney any time that you are talking about a trial of any sort.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    As I've heard many Judges tell many people who want to represent themselves during trials of every nature "You have an absolute right to represent yourself at trial, but you may find you have a fool for a client." I don't suggest it if you want to win the trial. Most Judges will not give you a break when it comes to the actual trial and how to conduct yourself. That's why it's always better to have an attorney represent you before trial and during it as well.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Law Offices of George H. Shers | George H. Shers
    One can always represent themselves in court, it just is frequently a bad idea because you do not know what you are doing and what is necessary to succeed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
    You can represent yourself but that is not wise, because will contests can be complicated and you will have to be familiar with all the legal causes of action to challenge the will based on undue influence.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
    Idaho does not have what you refer to as a "caveat". If you are the Personal Representative of the estate you can probably represent the estate by yourself-as the PR, but you really should be getting an attorney. Undue influence cases require good preparation and proof.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Neuhaus Law Office
    Neuhaus Law Office | Gregory M. Neuhaus
    No one is required to have an attorney represent them in a court action. There are very few non-attorneys that understand the legal requirements to successfully contest the validity of a Will, however.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Law Office of William L Spern | William Spern
    As a respondent in any litigation, you have an absolute right to represent yourself. However you should note Justice Marshall's caveat, "that a person that represents themselves has a fool for a client"
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Speaker Law Firm
    Speaker Law Firm | Theodore Speaker
    You can always represent yourself - not anyone else. Get an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    You may represent yourself but you may not speak for anyone else. You should consult an attorney about the advisability of you presenting your own case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Whiteford, Taylor, & Preston | Edwin Fee
    Yes, you may represent yourself in a caveat proceeding. But keep in mind that it is often difficult to prove that a will should be set aside. So you might be better off if you have an attorney assist you in this process.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    The DeRose Lawfirm | Peter J. DeRose
    Of course you can. I think it is highly unwise. You are caught up in the drama. I think you need the advice of a detached professional who has done this before.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    You can always represent yourself in court. You must have standing to appear in court. That means you must have a present interest to protect or to assert. From your question it is not clear whether your mother is alive or dead. If she is dead you would have an interest in her probate and could represent yourself. If she is alive, you do not have an interest in her estate only she does. She could represent herself.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    Yes, you have the right to represent yourself in any court proceeding.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC | Darin Christensen
    You can appear without legal counsel, but would be unwise to do so. A good estate and trust disputes lawyer (I personally do not litigate such matters) is well worth the money.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    J.W.Poprawa, Attorney at Law | Joseph W. Poprawa
    You can represent yourself, but I would recommend you at least consult an attorney about the particulars of your case before doing so.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    You can represent yourself in court, but you cannot represent someone else.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Della Rocca Law, LLC | Brian R. Della Rocca
    It is typically not a good idea to try to represent yourself in Court. You can try but I can guarantee that the estate will be represented by an attorney. You should consult with an attorney to see if you can obtain representation in this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 3/2/2012
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