How to Solve Inheritance Disputes with Mediation
Dealing with the death of a loved one is already difficult enough, but the situation can become even more difficult when the will is produced and doesn't reflect what you or someone else in the family thought they would receive. Maybe the deceased person promised to pass onto you a particular family heirloom, but the will gives it to someone else, or maybe the person changed their will shortly before they died and you suspect foul play. A probate court battle can be a messy, public affair that destroys family relationships – not to mention the time and expense involved. Mediation is a less formal, private way to solve inheritance disputes and retain some semblance of peace and acceptance between the parties.
Choosing a Mediator
Provide notice to the other parties.Since mediation is a voluntary process, everyone involved in the dispute must be willing to come together and use mediation as a means to resolve the inheritance dispute.
- There typically aren't any formal requirements for providing notice to the other parties, and you typically don't have to provide this notice in writing.
- If you're comfortable doing so, a simple phone call to let the other parties know that you want to try mediation should be sufficient.
- You may want to get someone else, such as the executor or personal representative of the estate, to contact the other parties involved in the dispute if you don't think they'll listen to you.
- Focus on the benefits of mediation. Explain to reluctant parties that mediation is a way to keep things private and confidential rather than potentially airing the family's dirty laundry in a protracted and public legal battle.
- Mediation also can help preserve the peace in the family and smooth the way toward more respectful and honest relationships because the process is voluntary and collaborative, not adversarial.
Find a mediation service.You may want to use a large alternate dispute resolution agency to handle the mediation, or you may feel more comfortable at a smaller community mediation clinic. The clerk of the probate court typically will have a list of court-approved mediators from which you can choose.
- If you know an attorney who you trust, you also might want to ask them if they can give you the names of some mediators. Many mediators are former attorneys, and attorneys often work with mediators so they likely have recommendations.
- Your state or local bar association also may have a list of mediators in your area from which you can choose.
- The mediator you select should be a neutral person unaffiliated with any of the parties in your dispute, who has received training in mediation techniques and has experience resolving inheritance disputes.
- You may want to interview several mediators before you make your final decision, so you can compare and contrast and make sure you're choosing the best person.
Schedule an appointment.Once you've chosen your mediator, you and the other parties involved in the dispute will have to work together to schedule a date for the mediation appointment.
- Generally, you want to make sure you have a three to four hour block of time you can commit to the mediation session.
- For example, you don't want to schedule an appointment at 3 p.m. if you know you'll have to leave to pick your children up from school at 4 p.m.
- Keep in mind that if the situation is complex or there are a lot of people involved, it may take several mediation sessions to reach a mutually agreeable compromise.
Preparing for Your Session
Gather information.Mediation is considerably more laid back than a courtroom trial, but you'll still want to have a decent outline of your position on the issues, evidence to back up your points, and a clear understanding of how you want the dispute resolved.
- At a minimum, you'll want to get a copy of the will and make sure you've read it thoroughly and understand what it says.
- If there are any other estate documents, you'll want copies of those as well.
- Other documents you may want to gather and take with you to the mediation include any cards or letters you received from the deceased person in which they talked about their end-of-life plans or the inheritance of their property.
Talk to witnesses.In many inheritance dispute there are witnesses who can help back up your claims, and you can have them draft a written statement of what they saw or heard, or have them accompany you to the mediation.
- For example, if you believe your cousin, who was taking care of your father at the end of his life, unduly influenced him into changing his will while he was sick and vulnerable, you might want to talk to other people or health care professionals who were around your father at the time.
- If the inheritance dispute concerns a promise the deceased person made to you that was not reflected in the will, you may not have any written evidence that they made that promise – but there may be friends or other family members who overheard it.
- Anyone even tangentially involved in the dispute should be present at the mediation, or at least available by phone. Having people there encourages everyone to talk to each other openly and honestly so you can all get to the root of the problem.
Consider consulting an attorney.You don't need an attorney to represent you at a mediation, but you might want to hire one if the other party has an attorney or if you find the other party particularly intimidating.
- An attorney also may be beneficial if there is a lot of money potentially at stake or there are significant legal issues involved.
- You also can have an attorney help you prepare for the mediation, but not actually go with you. If you're concerned about money, this can be a more cost-efficient way to get legal advice and assistance.
- In addition to providing emotional support, an attorney can advise you on negotiation strategy and how to communicate your thoughts and feelings.
Participating in Mediation
Arrive at your appointment.Your mediation appointment typically will take place in the mediator's office. You probably want to try to get there a few minutes early so you have time to get situated before mediation starts.
- Keep in mind that some mediation services prohibit the mediators from talking to you before the session begins, so you probably don't want to get there too early unless you're prepared to sit in awkward silence.
- Bring along any documents on which you want to rely, as well as any people who have bearing on the issue or who can offer you emotional support.
- A mediation session is not a trial, so you don't have to dress like you're going to court – although you can if you want. Just make sure whatever you're wearing is clean and neat, and refrain from wearing graphic T-shirts or anything that might be too distracting.
Make opening statements.A mediation typically begins with some comments from the mediator, who will introduce him- or herself and explain the procedures. Then each party will have an opportunity to tell their side of the story and what they want out of mediation.
- While everyone will be in the same room, the mediator will take care to make sure the playing field is even and no one feels intimidated or threatened.
- The mediator will explain the ground rules for the mediation session, and may provide everyone present a written handout of those rules. Make sure you understand them and ask any questions before discussions begin.
- Each party typically has the opportunity to make a statement to the room. You will be instructed not to interrupt anyone while they are speaking, so they all have an equal chance to present their positions.
- Since you requested the mediation, you typically will be given the first opportunity to speak. You don't necessarily have to restrict your statement to just the facts, but you should explain in your own words how the dispute began and what the source of the problem or disagreement is.
- Take care not to start speaking directly to the other party or insult them. Focus on yourself and your own feelings rather than speculating on the motivation or intent of anyone else involved in the dispute.
- When the other parties are talking, listen to their statements with respect and an open mind. The point of mediation is to reach a compromise, not to "win."
Have a joint discussion.As the mediation begins, the mediator will work with you and the other party to take care of any small, peripheral issues on which you can both agree. Generally, it's easier to reach a compromise if you can start on common ground.
- The mediator may have identified some common goals just from listening to your opening statements.
- If there are smaller issues that are fairly easy to resolve, the mediator may work with everyone together to settle those things and get them off the table so you can concentrate on the major issues at the core of the dispute.
Move to separate rooms.In the next stage of the mediation, the mediator typically has a series of private caucuses with you and the other party in an attempt to get to the heart of the dispute and find out what the real issues between you are.
- Because you are no longer in the same room with the others, you have the opportunity to be completely open and honest with the mediator without fear of antagonism.
- The mediator typically will present various options to you and talk about some of the underlying emotions and fears at the heart of the inheritance dispute.
- You may face some difficult questions during these private caucuses, but keep in mind that anything said in that room is confidential. If the mediator is going to take anything back to the other party, they'll tell you first exactly what they're going to say and get your approval.
- Private caucuses also are an opportunity to brainstorm various alternatives that could lead to compromise.
- For example, you may be angry because it appears you were disinherited since your name never appeared in the will, and perhaps you suspect foul play on the part of someone who was caring for the deceased person toward the end of their life.
- However, there may be specific items in which you have a particular interest, such as your grandmother's wedding ring. If the other party is willing to provide that item to you, the situation can be resolved.
Negotiate a resolution.When the mediator feels you and the other party are in positions where you are close to reaching a compromise, you typically will return to one table to hash out the details of the resolution face to face.
- Keep in mind it may take more than one session to reach this point, particularly if someone digs in their heels and refuses to give up on something.
- Generally, the mediator will only bring you all back together once everyone has indicated that they are committed to reaching a mutually agreeable resolution of the issue.
- The mediator can't force you to accept anything you don't want, but you need to keep an open mind and understand that it may not be possible for you to come out on top. As with any compromise, typically each party wins a little and loses a little.
Create a written agreement.Since mediation itself is non-binding, any compromise you reach must be put in writing and signed by both parties. This contract then becomes binding and legally enforceable in a court of law.
- Typically the mediator will write up an outline of the terms of your agreement and then present that outline to all parties to make sure it accurately reflects the compromise you reached.
- Once the specifics of the compromise are established, the mediator may write up the formal agreement. If there's an attorney present, he or she also may have a hand in writing it up.
- Regardless of who writes up the final agreement, read it carefully and make sure you understand it and that it accurately reflects the compromise you reached before you sign it.
- Keep in mind that once all parties have signed the agreement, it becomes a legally binding contract that must be followed.
Video: Mediation - The Benefits of Using Mediation to Resolve Disputes
How to Be a Good Swimmer
Ecco 3 modelli di jeans moda 2019 che indosserai per tutto lautunno (e anche tutto linverno)
How to Cope With a Flirtatious Co Worker
Do you ever spell witch with a b
What Is Eyebrow Threading
Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Are Reportedly Returning 9 Million Worth Of Wedding Gifts
How to Stand Correctly
Making the Most Of Your Tax Return Can Be As Easy As 1, 2, 3
Skin Problems of Olympic Athletes
BSK by Bershka June 2013 Lookbook