What do you mean Momma gave the farm to brother?






Will contests.  You gotta love ’em.

The reason they are such great fodder for legal fiction writing is because they turn people into monsters, destroy family ties and make us realize that the human race is populated by a greedy bunch of bastards.

The challenge of writing about will contests is to find someone in the case that is worth a damn. If the story doesn’t have a sympathetic character somewhere in it, people will lose interest.

We all know the general rule: it’s about the money. Everywhere else in life people can proudly proclaim that they are pursuing the American dream.  They intend to work hard and hope to some day make it big, to become a millionaire.

But at the courthouse in a will contest, people must lie about their motives.  They must convince a judge or jury that they are not seeking grandma’s mineral interests, but rather a beatific expression of pure justice. Brother is sent by the devil to corrupt the American legal system and take advantage of an old widow woman who in her last days knew not what she was doing when she modified her last testamentary expression.

In will contests you should always include some sort of conspiracy.  Each side sincerely believes that the other side had secret agents at work to persuade grandma. Maybe it was the nurse who cared for her in her final days, the lawyer who came to her home to record her last wishes, the long-lost love from WWII who came to her side to comfort her.

If the contestants as a whole are unsavory, you may have to look some place else for a hero.  Maybe the judge gets sick and tired of the whole mess and refuses to rule in favor of any of them. Maybe he puts them all on probation and tells them he will rule in six months.  Maybe he bases his ruling on how the contestants behave during the probationary period. Maybe they all come back truly reformed and the judge finds himself in a quandary.

Hey, wait a minute.  That sounds like a pretty good story.



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