“Occasionally, we get an interesting report on a matter involving a “Contest of Wills.” Ususally that report comes from Stan Pedder, of Pedder, Hesseltine, Walker & Toth of Lafayette. This latest matter reported went to trial before the Honorable Charles Burch. The case was entitled Estate of Schmidt. The Pedder firm represented the proponent or a 2001 Will (P). M., an attorney in Oakland represented the proponent of a 2007 Will (L). P contended that the 2001 Will should be allowed into probate because the 2007 Will was a forgery. P presented evidence that the Decedent would not have executed the 2007 Will because of an array of personal grievances against L. 

In a battle of handwriting experts, P’s expert stated that the 2007 Will was a forgery and as one might expect, L’s expert stated that the 2007 Will was absolutely signed by Decendent (hopefully before he died).

Early in the case, P made a settlement offer, which was rejected. After a three day trial with 11 witnesses, the case was submitted for decision. Just before the case was submitted, Judge Burch commented to the attorneys that it was a close case. After submission, but prior to the decision, the attorneys asked the Judge to postpone his decision while they pondered settlement. The case then settled on the same basis as Pedder had offered earlier.

What do you think?