When a family member dies the process of settling his or her estate begins; some assets are sold, taxes are paid, distributions to heirs occurs. But it is rarely that cut and dried. Disconcerting feelings among relatives and beneficiaries surface in puzzling ways at times of major family transition.
Many times, the family’s legal, financial planning and accounting team isn’t equipped to handle the emotional issues effectively. During this time of family conflict an experienced mediator can be an effective vehicle for unbundling complex emotional issues leading to successful estate settlement.
In a contested probate case, the parties’ concerns may focus on any number of factors outside the obvious property issues:
· a desire for confidentiality,
· for feelings of recognition,
· for power and status within the family,
· for fair treatment by other family members,
· for decedent acceptance, and
· for improved relationships in the future.
While parties’ legal positions may be in conflict, these interests may not. A skillful mediator can recognize these diverse interests, making it easier to resolve their legal claims while allowing for a continued family relationship.
Risk factors for probate highly contentious probate litigation include: Multiple Marriages, Dysfunctional Family, Nonstandard Estate Plans, Unsuitable Agent, and Failure to update beneficiaries.
Mediation can allow for effective communication between parties that never happened during the decedent’s lifetime opening the door for an amicable settlement is possible.
By helping the parties understand each other and facilitating an amicable resolution of a case, Laura Alpert believes mediation has lasting benefits for a family dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Some family disputes reach the point where litigation proceedings have begun or have been threatened. By employing mediation, families are able to keep their conflict out of a courtroom. Courts are not charged with developing creative solutions; a judge makes decisions based only on his or her interpretation of applicable laws.
Additionally, the adversarial nature of litigation, courtroom proceedings can destroy already fragile relationships. Accordingly, when families go to court, even the "winners" often lose. In mediation, family members can control both the process and the outcome rather than leaving it in the hands of attorneys and judges. And it means that all family members can be heard.
Finally, because the parties control the process, in most cases mediation is significantly less costly than litigation both emotionally and in terms of time and money.
Contact Laura Alpert today to discuss if Mediation is right for you.