Seth Hubbard, a seventy-plus-year-old millionaire, loses his battle with cancer and, unable to endure the pain anymore, takes his own life. He leaves a handwritten will that negates the previous one, made out a year ago at a reputable law firm. And that’s what causes the drama of the century in his county.
Seth’s will is so outrageously weird that no one is able to understand his decision, much less approve it. Not even the beneficiary, bequeathed ninety percent of Hubbard’s wealth, understands it, and certainly not the people who get cut out of the will. Needless to say, everyone in the community questions the dead man’s sanity—Was he under the influence of the painkillers? Was he coerced?—even though he claims in his will that he was sound of mind and alone at the time of composing it.
A day before his suicide, Mr. Hubbard mails his will to Jake Brigance, a local young attorney, famous for winning a controversial case three years earlier (described in A Time to Kill). In a letter attached to the will, he asks Jake to take the case because he is the only lawyer in the area that he respects and trusts. He warns him, however, about the “trouble” that his testament will most likely cause.
Thus the dying man pleads with Jake Brigance to defend his will “at all costs.”
And that’s exactly what Jake sets out to do.
And the fight involving a court drama begins. It is an ugly fight, which, as we all know, often happens in real life, when it comes to contesting an “unfair” will. Which is what makes this story twice as fascinating.