Litigators are Beasts of Burden
To win your case you must first prove your case. But how much proof is enough?
If you are the party initiating the case, you carry the burden of proof. But exactly how far must you and your probate attorneys go to prove your claim?
We are all familiar with the proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases. However, in trust and will lawsuits, which are civil rather than criminal matters, the burden of proof is far less rigorous. The court must be convinced that the evidence presented shows that you are more than 50% right, meeting one of the two following burdens of proof: by a “preponderance of the evidence” or by “clear and convincing” evidence.
If your burden of proof is the lower of the two, the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, you will win by proving that the facts you have introduced are more likely true than not true. That is, your evidence must show that your claim is slightly more than 50% right, even if it is just a sliver over 50%. In other situations, the burden of proof will be higher, and the party must prove their facts by "clear and convincing" evidence. To meet this burden, it must be established that there is a high probability that the facts introduced are true. Finally, in some cases, it is even possible for the burden of proof to shift from one party to the other.
No matter the basis for your case, it is vital that your trust attorneys advise you on the applicable burden of proof, the likelihood of ultimately meeting that burden, and then work diligently to obtain the evidence needed in order to prevail.
If you are looking for an experienced Sonoma County trust attorney or probate attorney call 707-623-1316. Our office is located in Santa Rosa and we proudly serve Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Petaluma, Healdsburg, and all surrounding areas. Don’t hesitate to call for your free initial consultation.