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California Probate, Will & Trust Lawyer > Blog > Probate > Can You Use Alternative Dispute Resolution for Probate Issues?

Can You Use Alternative Dispute Resolution for Probate Issues?


During the probate process, disputes can arise due to several reasons. Often, probate disputes arise from disagreements among beneficiaries or other interested parties. Examples of common probate disputes include Will contests, guardianship disputes, family disputes, and creditor claim disputes. When probate disputes arise, people often assume they must go to court. However, going to court is not the only way to resolve probate disputes. You can use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for probate issues.

In this article, we discuss five types of alternative dispute resolution parties to a probate dispute can use to resolve their dispute.


Mediation is one of the most popular forms of ADR. This ADR is popular for various reasons. For example, mediation is flexible and cost-effective. Mediation can help preserve the estate assets. This ADR method offers confidentiality and allows parties to maintain control over the outcome of the case. Mediation is also popular because it helps preserve relationships.

With mediation, disputing parties work with a neutral third party (a mediator) to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. During the mediation process, the mediator helps the disputing parties communicate. The mediator helps each party understand the other’s viewpoint.

It is crucial to note that participation in mediation is always voluntary. Beneficiaries, heirs, or any other parties must agree to participate in mediation. You cannot be forced to mediate a probate dispute, nor can you force someone into mediation.

If parties reach an agreement during mediation, the agreement is formalized and may become legally binding. On the other hand, if mediation does not lead to a resolution, disputing parties can try another ADR or go to court.

Voluntary Settlement Conference

A voluntary settlement conference involves the disputing parties working with a neutral third party, such as a mediator or probate judge, to resolve the dispute. Just like with mediation, participation in a voluntary settlement is voluntary. Additionally, this alternative dispute resolution offers privacy.

While you don’t have to invite an attorney to a settlement conference, having an attorney is in your best interest. An experienced probate attorney can help you express your side of the case and protect your legal rights.

If parties reach an agreement during the voluntary settlement conference, they can formalize the agreement. If formalized, the agreement becomes binding.

Mandatory Settlement Conference

A mandatory settlement conference is a court-ordered process that disputing parties must attend before going to court. As with voluntary settlement conferences, everything you discuss during a mandatory settlement conference and every offer made remains confidential. Whatever is said in a mandatory settlement conference can’t be used as evidence in court.

Collaborative Law

With collaborative law, each party hires an attorney to represent them. Then, the disputing parties and their attorneys commit to resolving the dispute.


With this option, disputing parties present their case to a neutral arbitrator who makes the final decision. This option can benefit those who want a decision-maker but don’t want to go to court.

Contact The Probate Guy

Are you dealing with a probate dispute? Contact the skilled and dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – today to schedule a telephonic consultation.

Southern California Probate Lawyer Serving Orange, Riverside, Anaheim, Whittier & Beyond.

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I love being a probate attorney. I love helping people through a very difficult time in their lives with the probate process. My practice focuses solely on probate matters. My job is to complete the probate process as efficiently and painlessly for my clients as possible. I have found that paying the upfront costs of probate adds unneeded stress, so I will advance all of the fees and costs for the probate. No money is required to complete the probate. I will be reimbursed at the end of the case when you receive your inheritance. Call me NOW to discuss your case for free.

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