The baby boom generation has created a spike in inheritance issues that is expected to continue until at least the middle of this century. As an increasing number of families face issues with the transfer of wealth, mediation has become a means by which families settle disputes without the cost or hassle of other options. Mediation not only avoids the unpleasantness of taking a family member to court, it also offers a proactive solution for the ambiguity that sometimes occurs in a will. Reaching a solution through a communication-based method solves the concrete legal issues, but also makes it possible for families to live in harmony, even after a grandparent or parent passes.
How is mediation a valuable tool for families looking to settle estate issues without litigation and with less stress?
Mediation addresses intangible items and items without a clear monetary value. Litigation addresses only the financial value of an estate and divides it in a manner that honors the will of the testator. There is little, if any, room for addressing the emotional value of items in the estate. Mediation provides an opportunity for families to reach a resolution based on how they feel, as well as what is legal and what was intended by the testator.
Mediation gives everyone in the family a voice. Mediators often meet individually with each member of the family during the process, as well as with the group. This makes it possible to not only determine what each party believes was the intention of the testator, but also gives the mediator an opportunity to understand family dynamics. Communication is a very important part in this type of conflict resolution and successful mediation is often based on creating an atmosphere that encourages open, honest communication.
Mediation is a no-lose situation that can save families a great deal of money and heartache. Most experts recommend families to at least try mediation before heading to litigation because there is nothing to lose. If it does not work out, the family still has the option of litigation. If any of the parties does not agree with the resolution offered in this type of alternative dispute resolution, they are free to proceed as they choose. Furthermore, none of the discussions held during the process can be used in litigation, so there truly is no risk involved.
If a family is having a difficult time settling disputes or nobody is sure of the exact intentions of the testator of a will, mediation offers an affordable, non-aggressive method for resolving the problem.