Resolving Probate Disputes Through Mediation
After someone dies in California, probate is necessary to implement the provisions of the decedent’s Will. Probate can also happen if a person dies without a Will. When a person dies without a Will, their property is distributed under the state intestacy law.
During the probate process, disputes are common. For example, disputes may arise over the distribution of the decedent’s property. Involved parties may also dispute the validity of the Will. When probate disputes arise, a trial may be necessary. However, not all probate disputes require a trial to be resolved. Alternative dispute resolution methods can be used in place of litigation. Mediation is one of the ADR methods that can be used to resolve probate disputes.
What Is Mediation?
As already mentioned, mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. As a form of alternative dispute resolution, mediation takes place outside of court. Mediation involves disputing parties working with a neutral third party known as a mediator. A mediator’s job is to help the disagreeing parties reach a mutually beneficial agreement. A mediator cannot give legal advice or make the final decision. A mediator can only facilitate communication between disputing parties, help evaluate the situation, discuss pertinent information, and explore possible solutions.
The mediation process varies from one case to the other, but the basics are the same. The mediation process usually starts with the mediator meeting with the disagreeing parties and their attorneys, if they have attorneys. It is best to hire legal counsel. If a case is not highly contentious, the mediator may hold a joint meeting. During the meeting, the mediator explains the mediation process to the involved parties and allows each side to share their perspectives on the issue.
During mediation, the mediator moves back and forth between the disputing parties but does not disclose what one party says to the other. Instead, the mediator uses the information gathered to help the parties develop possible solutions.
At the end of the mediation process, the mediator prepares a written agreement if the parties reach an agreement, and then the agreement is submitted to probate court.
Advantages of Probate Mediation
Mediation can offer several benefits for those involved in probate disputes. The following are some of the advantages of probate mediation;
- Privacy – Unlike litigation, mediation does not take place in open court. Also, records of a mediation process are generally private.
- Saves time and money – Mediation is usually quicker than going to court and less costly.
- Control – Probate mediation allows disputing parties to have more control over potential resolutions than they would if a judge had decided the case.
- Flexibility – During mediation, the disputing parties can devise solutions that a judge would not impose.
- Preserves family relationships – Probate disputes involve family relationships and history. The mediation process can help prevent or reduce rifts between family members because it is a less adverbial process.
How an Attorney Can Help During Mediation
A mediator cannot represent any of the involved parties or offer legal advice. So an attorney plays a significant role in the mediation process. An attorney can provide legal advice and advocate for your best interests. A qualified probate attorney can protect your rights throughout the mediation process.
Contact The Probate Guy for Legal Help
If you are facing a probate dispute and need help determining the best way to resolve the issue, contact the dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – today to schedule a telephonic consultation.