“…with liberty and justice for all.”
Remember that from the Pledge of Allegiance? Well, the Pledge may say, justice for all, but not everyone can afford justice on Trust and Will lawsuits in court. And justice in Trust and Will matters can be more subjective than you think. You certainly know what a just result should be, but your case in Trust and Will matters is usually decided by a judge (called a bench trial). And judges have seen the worst of the worst when it comes to family matters such as Trust and Wills. So while you may be surprised and outraged by your circumstances, you’re just another case to the judge deciding your matter.
Not only that, but justice is what you fight for when going to trial and in California a vast majority of cases settle before trial. This is because going to trial takes way too long and costs way too much for most people. It takes too long because our court systems are backlogged, which also drives up the costs. In fact, last year the State Legislature took over $500 million from the courts statewide. That is a massive amount of money, and court services has severely suffered as a result.
As a result, most people, at best, try to get a fair result from their Trust or Will matter. What’s the difference between justice and fairness? A just result is usually a fair result, but a fair result may not be just. For example, justice may require that you receive your full equal share to your parent’s estate. But that may not be possible for any number of reasons. Whereas, a fair result may be obtaining 75% of what you are otherwise entitled to receive. It is not full justice but it is fair enough for you to stop paying money and taking time on your matter in court.
Justice costs a lot. It takes payment in the form of money, time, and emotional toll. And the risk of fighting for justice is suffering an injustice—that means losing your case. Fairness, on the other hand, is usually cheaper and easier to obtain. It still takes a toll, but fairness can oftentimes be obtained without further risk of loss.
So what are you fighting for? Justice or fairness…or both?