Mediation as a Solution to Drawn Out Probate Litigation

If the thought of long, drawn-out probate litigation is keeping you up at night, it may be time to consider Mediation as a solution.

Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, which is completely voluntary and doesn’t require a court order.  In mediation, a neutral third party (usually a lawyer or former judge) will work with the parties to develop a settlement of the litigation.  In general, each party has a separate room or meeting space, and the mediator will travel back and forth between the different sides to assist them in arriving at a solution.  The process does not usually involve the parties negotiating directly with one another, but instead, the mediator will negotiate with each party to try to bring them together for a resolution. 

The advantages of Mediation include:

  • It is cost-effective. By entering into Mediation, a resolution can be timely which in the end saves the estate’s assets. Protracted litigation can eat away at the assets and limit the amount available for distribution to beneficiaries/heirs.
  • It is a more informal process. Involved parties come together and reach a resolution without a court, judge, or jury making the decision for them.

To proceed, you will need to take several things into consideration, including the following:

  • Selection of a Mediator. Due to the Mediator’s role in helping to facilitate a settlement, he or she needs to have experience and expertise in the type of subject matter under dispute.
  • Fees for Mediation. In order to preserve as much as possible of the estate’s assets, the cost for proceeding with Mediation is an important factor. Look for a Mediator who charges on a flat-fee basis. Also, consider an agreement where the parties split the Mediator’s fees.

In cases driven by family emotion and conflict, mediation provides a way to get the parties together and talking. Each party can walk away with an acceptable resolution and the ability to move forward with their lives.

If you have questions about whether meditation is right for your probate matter, contact us here at Ford + Bergner LLP.  We offer mediation services in probate litigation cases and also guardianship litigation cases.