Many trust and estate disputes are settled through mediation instead of the Superior Court’s final judgment. Mediation offers disputing parties a practical resolution without the stress, high costs, and a trial’s unpredictable outcome. When mediation is used instead of legal action, even opposing positions can come up with mutually acceptable deals.

When is estate dispute mediation needed?

Mediation is necessary when:

  • an estate is very large
  • a conflict of interest becomes evident during the estate-planning process
  • family situations are unusually complicated

The possibility for dispute is high in large estates because of human nature and the prevalence of greed and disagreement. It is easier to expose a family member’s wants, hidden intentions, and agendas and resolve them before conflict arises. Getting siblings to sit down and negotiate after conflict has erupted can be harder. Mediation can quickly move forward if no conflict is apparent, with the confidence that the desires of the parties involved will be met.

Using mediation early in the conflict can work. The time to mediate estate disputes is right when the parties are inclined to make decisions on the day of the mediation and are willing to sign a binding agreement that makes them enforceable. An important factor is to have adequate information as a basis for decisions to be made.

Are the parties bound to resolve their dispute during the estate mediation?

While mediation is generally highly effective in helping the parties settle their dispute, the parties are not bound to any outcome that might be reached during mediation. The parties still hold the right to take legal action or arbitration in case the mediation process fails. If agreement is achieved during mediation, it can only be binding if it is in writing and signed by the parties. Once the written settlement agreement is signed, the parties are legally bound to uphold its terms.

What if the mediation process fails to resolve an estate dispute?

If the mediation process does not end in a resolution the parties can agree to, the parties are free to seek other methods to resolve dispute such as arbitration or lawsuit. Mediation is a dispute resolution tool with a high rate of success and can help parties air their complaints and bring their issues into focus – even if no agreement is reached.

How should a successful estate mediation end?

An ideal mediation should end with a written agreement indicating the judgment of the parties. Agreement terms can vary significantly and not all issues are settled on the day of the mediation. Cases are often resolved through follow-up discussions. It may then be necessary to follow up with counsel so settlement discussions will resume.

How can parties increase their chances of a successful outcome?

  1. It is absolutely necessary that the involved parties first have all the available information on which to draw their decisions. Information may include:
  • inventories of personal property
  • market analyses or evaluation of real property
  • bank records, receipts, and other such accounting back-up information
  • qualified opinions for the interpretation of medical records
  • tax advice
  1. The parties should be made aware that compromise is necessary for a settlement. Agreements are not reached when one party insists on either getting what they want or nothing at all. Some compromise is almost always made by all parties
  2. An acceptable decision is more likely to be reached if all involved parties are present during the mediation process. Being actually present in the mediation process is clearly desirable even if there are situations where parties can only participate through Skype or phone.

Why choose Kanter Ostler Mediation to mediate your estate dispute?

We at Kanter Ostler Mediation aim to provide our clients with a confidential and caring process, working with a mediator of their choice. We can help them achieve a mutually agreeable settlement and spare them from expensive, time-consuming and uncertain results of litigation.

Our mediators are skilled in mediation and the issues that come with estate disputes and will guide you through the mediation process.

Call Kanter Ostler at (619) 304-2244 for more information.

COVID-19 Update: We Are Performing Remote Mediation Sessions via Video Conference