Probate & Estate Mediation

Probate is the legal process of transferring property due to the death of someone.

Mediation is appropriate for resolving probate and estate issues, when family members are unable to agree on the process of dividing the estate. Mediation provides an opportunity for family members to increase understanding, and repair relationships; in a safe, private, confidential, and non-judgmental setting. Mediation is much better than using the courtroom as a battleground, to right personal “injustices” which may have accrued over the course of a family disagreement.

Frequent Reasons For Probate Disagreements May Include

The disposition of the decedent's property because family members do not agree with the decedent's estate plan, or family members may have different views of a "fair" distribution of the decedent's property

Disputes may also arise between beneficiaries of a trust, or estate, or a fiduciary (the person legally obligated to manage the affairs of the trust or estate). Here the beneficiaries may disagree over who should act as fiduciary, or they may be concerned about investment decisions, or some other management practices by the fiduciary.

Typical Probate Scenario

The father of three adult children recently passed away. The will stated that the decedent's property should be equally divided amongst all the children. However the three siblings are unable to agree on what is a "fair" distribution of their father's estate. Although they know that each is to get a one-third share, they can not agree on the division of the personal property. The case is further complicated by the fact that one sibling sold some of their father’ belongings in a garage sale when their father moved to a nursing home a month before his death. A second sibling is infuriated that her father's antique desk was given away to a family friend. A third sibling is upset with the proposed split, because he provided most of the care to their father in the months before his death. The case goes to court and the judge orders mediation as a way to try to preserve the limited resources of the estate, avoid extensive court hearings, and hopefully repair the relationship of the siblings.

Reasons to choose mediation to help resolve disputes in probate matters

1) Cost Effective. Sometimes the size of the estate or the value of the dispute does not justify an extensive trial, and mediation provides a cost-effective way for parties to feel that their voice has been heard and to reach a settlement.

2) Situations where a continuing relationship is important. In a trust, for example, where the trustee and beneficiary may continue to interact after the immediate dispute is resolved. Also even if the situation does not per se involve future interactions, such as in a decedent’s estate, many parties value the continuing relationship and choose mediation in order to avoid poisoning the relationships through a full-blown court proceeding.

3) Pre-suit Cases. The parties are wise to choose mediation before filing a case in court. This has the advantage of not pitting parties as adversaries and preserving the relationship of the parties.

4) Confidentiality. Mediation allows parties to a dispute to air their grievances in a private setting.

5) Emotional Benefits. The emotional benefits of mediation can be significant. Mediation gives parties a chance to be heard. For some family members, being able to air grievances and receiving an apology or explanation for troubling behavior may be more important than receiving a property settlement.

Contact us today to discuss how we may assist you with probate issues.



27212 Foamflower Blvd, Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
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