Probate conflicts should not automatically lead to court battles and strained relationships among family members. If you find yourself facing a legal dispute involving another beneficiary, a fiduciary, or anyone involved in the probate process, it’s important to know that litigation in probate court is not the only solution. In many instances, individuals can preserve relationships and find compromises through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods.
What is Probate Mediation?
Mediation provides a platform for two or more parties to resolve their legal conflicts outside of the courtroom. During mediation, parties have the option to be accompanied by their own attorneys. A neutral mediator facilitates the dispute resolution process through negotiation, aiming to identify areas of agreement in a less formal setting than a courtroom. Confidentiality is a key aspect of mediation, allowing both parties to freely discuss their grievances without the fear of their conflicts becoming public or being used against them in court.
Mediation offers several benefits, including reduced attorney fees, expedited processes, and the potential to repair strained familial relationships. In many cases, probate mediation enables parties to reach compromises that benefit everyone involved. Mediators bring fresh perspectives to the issues at hand and often propose unique solutions that may not be attainable through litigation.
Regrettably, it’s a common occurrence for homeowners and contractors to forego formal written agreements, instead relying on bids or invoices. This practice has resulted in numerous lawsuits due to misunderstandings that could have been avoided if the parties had clarified their expectations from the outset. To prevent such conflicts, it’s crucial to include specific construction tasks in writing, written change orders for any work beyond the original contract, an attorney’s fees clause, payment dates and schedules, and a total project cost not to exceed. If you’re a homeowner and a contractor took your deposit but failed to complete or poorly executed the work, you can seek legal action against them and their bond if available.
On the other hand, if you’re a contractor and a homeowner refuses to pay you for your agreed-upon work, you can file a lien on the property where the work was carried out to secure payment.
Can Mediation resolve my Probate issue?
For many individuals, mediation provides a more favorable outcome compared to going through probate court. If you are involved in a probate dispute and desire to preserve relationships, potentially reduce legal costs, and explore alternative resolutions to your conflict, probate mediation may be the right choice for you.
Even if you believe the other party is unwilling to cooperate or that there seems to be no way to amicably resolve the dispute, mediation often leads to favorable negotiated settlements. Additionally, even if not all disputes can be completely resolved through mediation, it can help narrow down the contested issues, making litigation a more cost-effective process. In most cases, there is no downside to attempting mediation before resorting to litigation.