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Walt Disney probate litigation: Can grandson appear by telephone?

If an Illinois resident is named as a beneficiary in another person’s last will and testament, it may be that he or she will have to attend one or more court hearings. If probate litigation takes place in another state, travel arrangements and related expenses may be a concern. The grandson of deceased family film icon Walt Disney recently filed a federal lawsuit alleging that a judge in another state has violated his constitutional right to due process.

Disney’s grandson says he has repeatedly asked the court to allow him to attend hearings related to his inheritance by telephone appearance. The court has denied his requests, multiple times. His lawyer notes that there is nothing in the state’s probate laws that bars this. In fact, the attorney says the laws as written actually encourage it, as necessary.

Disney’s grandson has told the court that it has placed an undue burden upon him to be forced to appear at all hearings in person. Furthermore, he says he should be entitled to the same fair treatment that all litigants receive under the laws that allow for and support telephonic appearances in court to help reduce court costs, as well as in situations where travel is difficult. His attorney says that his client is worried that a denial to allow him to attend hearings via telephone may adversely affect his ability to collect his full inheritance.

Probate litigation can take weeks, months or longer to resolve, especially in complex cases like that of Walt Disney’s grandson. Anyone concerned about inheritance issues can explore his or her options by consulting with an experienced estate planning and administration law attorney. Rules regarding telephonic court appearances vary by state, and an Illinois attorney is well-versed on the laws of this state.