Following the death of a loved one, what happens to his or her remaining assets can be difficult to deal with, especially if there are disputes with the estate plan or the administration of a trust. The legal battles that come out of these disputes can be tiresomely long and painfully expensive. Going through the trial process often puts a real strain on the relationships of the family members involved, as well.
One potential way to avoid the headache of a trial is by going through mediation. Here’s why you should consider the mediation process, and how you can get legal help now.
Estate and Trust Dispute Mediation
Mediation is a tried-and-true legal alternative to the trial process. When you opt for mediation, you’re agreeing to try and work out your legal differences with the help of an outside party, the mediator. Mediators are neutral parties with no interest in the outcome of the case. The mediator will act as a go-between to help both parties stay out of the court system and come to a resolution that both find mutually agreeable.
Some of the benefits of mediation can include:
- It saves time. Even in the most efficient jurisdictions, the legal system is often overwhelmed and slow-moving. Mediation can take time—but it’s often not nearly as long as a full trial.
- It saves money. The court system is expensive. There are filing fees and court costs, as well as the cost of attorneys, expert witnesses, and other unexpected costs. While mediation isn’t free, it often represents a savings.
- It protects your family’s privacy. Court proceedings are typically matters of public record and are available for anyone to see. However, the mediation process is a private affair, so your family’s concerns can stay confidential.
- It provides a neutral environment to negotiate. A professional mediator has no financial or other interest or investment in the outcome of your case and works as a go-between to help you hammer out a fair agreement with the other parties involved.
- You make the calls, not a judge. When you go through trial, the ultimate fate of your case lies in the hands of a judge and jury. This can result in an outcome that neither party actually finds very satisfactory. Mediation gives you and the opposing party the opportunity to work something out together.
When an inheritance is part of a dispute, coming to a resolution sooner rather than later can mean that heirs receive the assets—such as money, property, valuables, or other meaningful possessions—a lot more quickly. The amount of money saved can also result in a larger share of an inheritance passing to the heirs, without years of court costs to drain away funds that were intended for the loved ones and family members of the deceased.
How to Get Help
One of the biggest steps you can take when you have problems with an estate, such as a dispute over a will or a trust, is to contact an attorney with experience handling cases like yours. Though it's not legally required to have an attorney to go through mediation, having a professional in your corner during the mediation process can help make sure your rights are protected from day one. And if you and the opposing party cannot come to an agreement in mediation, you will already have an attorney who's familiar with your case ready to follow through and represent you in court.
If you have a will, trust, or other estate planning conflict or mediation issue and need legal help now, Attorney Michael Monteforte, Jr. is available to help you. Contact Monteforte Law, P.C. by phone, or use the brief contact form on this page to send an email and arrange a free consultation by telephone, video conference, or in person at our Wilmington office.