Friday, December 15th, 2017

Everyone Can Win When Families Mediate Trust and Will Disputes

January 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Newsletters

There are few disputes more devastating than grieving relatives embittered in contested estate, trust or will litigation. Every family member is already hurt and suffering from loss, and this pain can manifest itself in extreme anger and bitterness. The San Francisco Bay Area Mediation Office of Kevin C. Coleman offers mediation services for estate, will and trust disputes, where both sides have the opportunity for emotional and financial resolution in a faster and more satisfying manner than contested litigation.

Probate Litigation Only Depletes Familial Assets

As is true with family law litigation, in an estate, will or trust dispute, there is no money coming from a deep-pocket third party. If the estate is modest, families might have trouble securing legal representation at all. This means that families deplete their own resources to pay for litigation costs. Adverse litigation is inherently risky and disputes over family money are zero sum games—there is only one “pie” to be divided, and everyone wants the biggest piece. Even if your clients “win,” they might still be upset after realizing litigation fees are claiming the largest slice.

Mediation Offers a Different Path for Families

Unlike a lawsuit against a third party whom a litigant might never have to see again, families are forever. Parents and children, siblings, cousins and other relatives can be torn apart permanently due to an estate or will dispute. Instead of going down such an emotionally and financially destructive path, mediation offers families a much better alternative.

In exploring the needs and interests of each family member, relatives can preserve and improve their relationships with each other. Relatives might learn to better empathize and remember that everyone is hurting in the aftermath of a death in the family. They can listen to each other and see that litigation will be destructive to the entire family, as well as the assets they are seeking to preserve. Families are more likely to achieve a mutually satisfactory settlement through mediation when looking at its benefits compared to the inherent risks and costs of litigation.

Mediation Has No Downside for Family Disputes

Trial litigators perform a valuable service by skillfully arguing contested issues in court when a settlement is not attainable or is not in their clients’ best interests. However, for most family disputes, there is no downside to first attempting mediation. Even in situations where a full settlement is not ultimately agreed upon, mediation can narrow the contested issues, so that remaining litigation is more focused and cost-effective.

Attorneys should carefully weigh the benefits of mediation versus contested litigation with their clients, particularly for family disputes regarding wills, trusts and estates. For more information, contact Bay Area mediator Kevin Coleman online or by calling 415-488-7609.

Kevin Coleman is a certified mediator who performs mediation services throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Marin County, Alameda, Contra Costa, Sonoma, outlying counties and throughout the state.

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