Sixty percent of Americans do not have a will, living trust, or any estate plan. This number may seem shocking, and it is (to a certain extent), but it is also a result of a misunderstanding. Many Americans, especially those in their 20s and 30s, do not understand how complicated and confusing the probate process can be. Shapiro Mediation is here to help. We will explore probate mediation below and offer helpful tips on how you can avoid a painful and stressful legal process.
What is Probate Litigation Mediation?
Probate mediation (sometimes referred to as probate litigation mediation or estate mediation) happens after the probate courts have decided how to distribute the deceased or incapacitated individual’s estate. If the parties involved in probate are unhappy with the court’s decision, then they will file suit. This is when probate litigation begins.
Common types of probate litigation mediation include:
- Challenging a will
- Challenging or modifying a trust
- Interpreting estate plan documents
- Estate administration (including breach of fiduciary duty)
- Creditor issues
There are countless other reasons that litigation may occur – perhaps one child of the deceased feels they received less than they were owed from the estate, for example – but the above are the most common.
Probate litigation mediation is a type of dispute resolution that seeks to find a mutually agreed upon and beneficial outcome outside of the courtroom. Lawsuits, especially estate suits, can take years to be resolved. All involved parties have to retain attorneys and other legal professionals, which is often prohibitively expensive. On top of the time and monetary investment, estate suits are notoriously difficult emotionally. Siblings are often pitted against each other.
Probate litigation mediation offers an alternative to this arduous, painful process.
The Probate Mediation Process
The probate mediation process begins by finding a neutral, third-party facilitator. This is the mediator, who then helps guide conversation and negotiation among the parties. Having a probate mediator helps everyone involved feel more comfortable and work through a complex, often profoundly personal, experience.
It is important to note that estate mediation is not family therapy. Still, there is often something incredibly powerful about having a neutral facilitator guiding the probate mediation process. Due to the collaborate nature of mediation, those involved may be able to better understand and empathize with each other during and after. This can lead to a positive outcome for estate disputes, but it can also lead to generally improved familial relationships.
The entire probate mediation process is confidential. You do not have to worry about any potentially embarrassing family issues being dragged into the courtroom and then the public eye. You can rest assured that everything said at the mediation table will stay at the mediation table.
Experienced Massachusetts and Florida Probate Mediators
The team at Shapiro Mediation is here to work with you throughout the entire probate mediation process. From the first inkling that something may be unusual in your loved one’s estate to a successful resolution, we know what it takes to handle sensitive, familial issues. With two conveniently located offices in Boston and Fort Lauderdale, we also have extensive experience working within local probate courts. Contact us today at (339) 298-7733.