Alternative Dispute Resolution: Estate Mediation
Estate mediation is a good way to resolve issues. Not surprisingly, estate disputes are quite common, and can be caused by disagreements or interpretations in:
- Personal Directives (Living Wills)
- Powers of Attorney
- Enduring Powers of Attorney
- Dependent Support
- Guardianship & Trusteeship
- Elder Abuse
You might need estate mediation due to disputes between family members, beneficiaries, personal representatives or trustees, and attorneys under powers of attorney. Disputes can create a great deal of friction among family members and even ruin relationships.
Litigation Isn’t Always the Right Solution
Disputes are emotionally charged and one or more of the parties may insist that the matter be settled by the courts. But the legal process to resolve the dispute can take a long time and be very costly for all parties, win or lose. Additionally, even though each of the parties is certain they are right, the court’s decision is final and one or more of the parties will often be left disappointed.
This can result in irreparable damage to relationships, especially family relationships.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Through Mediation
Estate mediation is a meeting, or meetings, between the parties to the dispute and their legal representatives, if any. The discussions are facilitated by a mediator.
Mediation can not only save a great deal of time and legal costs, but it can save relationships. Disputes can in many cases be resolved amicably, or at least without dragging on and on, creating much bitterness, if the parties agree to try to work out a solution that’s mutually acceptable.
Once the parties have agreed on a settlement, a formal document outlining the terms is prepared and signed by the parties to the settlement.
A further benefit of estate mediation is that the discussions and resolution are confidential, whereas, unless exceptional circumstances apply, filings and proceedings are open to the public.
Types of Mediation
Mediation can be either facilitative or evaluative.
Facilitative mediation attempts to discover the the personal needs or interests of the parties involved, and the solution doesn’t have to consider the legal rights of the parties.
Evaluative mediation examines the legal rights of the parties, and makes the parties aware of the legal soundness of their positions. In a number of situations, the parties may not be aware that their positions are not legally sound, and that mediation is a better alternative.
We’re Here to Help You Find a Solution
With many years of experience in estate planning, estate administration, and estate disputes, we are well versed in the legal issues involved, and are well equipped to provide both facilitative and evaluative estate mediation services.
We are happy to represent you if you need mediation or alternative dispute resolution. We can also serve as the mediator if chosen by the parties.
If serving as the mediator, we remain impartial and do not provide legal advice or encourage the parties to take a certain course. However, we will offer a legal opinion of a likely outcome if the case were to go to court. And, as always, we’ll be friendly and fair.
If you’ve been considering estate litigation, we encourage you to contact us. An attempt to mediate before you incur significant costs, and before risking the relationship damage that may result, may be the best initial course of action.