Take Control of your Probate through Mediation!
Probate courts are full of cases concerning disputes between heirs of an estate or beneficiaries of a trust. Because the heirs and beneficiaries are often family members, probate disputes are essentially family disputes that involve long histories with high emotions. The probate process is expensive, slow, frustrating, and very public.
Is there is a dispute about how a trust is being run? Is there a dispute on how assets are being divided? Is there a dispute about the validity of a trust or will? Mediation can help resolve these disputes.
Drew Gilliland has extensive experience in probate law. Drew is the former chair of the Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law Section of the Riverside County Bar Association.
Mediation is a conversation about making decisions to resolve your probate or trust dispute. Mediation is based on a very powerful concept, the idea that you – the ones who have lived the experience causing the dispute – own all the decision-making power. You are the ones who know the most about want you want and how it should be resolved.
Mediation takes place in the privacy of our offices. There is no need to travel to the court, arrange for parking, pass through security, and wait for your case to be called. You will not need to air your disagreements in open court. Mediation is private and confidential.
Mediation allows for maximum flexibility. Each session generally lasts for 2-3 hours (or longer if everyone agrees and the schedules accommodate). Each session is scheduled taking into consideration your respective schedules. Contrast this to a court proceeding where a hearing is scheduled based on the court's availability and completely ignores your schedule.
Mediation consists of five basic steps:
- Agreeing to mediate and signing the mediation agreement
- Gathering and disclosing information about income, assets, and debts to each of you
- Meeting with the mediator to set an agenda for what needs to be resolved
- Brainstorming possible solutions after setting the agenda
- Coming to an agreement that is put in writing and signed by each of you
The key to a successful mediation is the desire to mediate in good faith.
There are also some important concepts to understand about mediation that help mediation be more successful.
During mediation it is also helpful if each of you has an idea of three important concepts
- What is your best outcome if for you if your divorce was decided by a Judge?
- What is your worst outcome if your divorce was decided by a Judge?
- What is the most likely outcome if your divorce was decided by a Judge?
You should also consider the costs of not resolving your divorce in mediation. There are essentially three categories
- Out of pocket costs. These include attorneys' fees, depositions, expert witnesses. You pay these costs whether you win or lose.
- Time: What is the value of your time? Are you making money or losing money by being involved in this dispute? What is it worth to you in terms of your time to walk out of here today with this resolved?
- Psychological cost: Uncertainty creates stress. Without a resolution in mediation, you lose control over the process and turn it over to the Court decide. Ask yourself if this is something you want to live with for the next year or two?