Mediation growing as alternative to litigating trust, estate and probate disputes

Mediation offers an alternative to litigating the growing number of trust, estate and probate disputes and is designed to keep clients out of court, reduce legal costs and preserve family relationships.

Routinely used in divorce and custody conflicts, mediation is ideally suited for estate and probate disputes in which complex family issues and emotions can dominate. Wills are already the single most litigated legal document. Further, there has been an increase in the number and intensity of trust and estate disputes due to several factors: baby boomers have started to transfer their wealth to heirs; blended and non-traditional families are changing family dynamics; and inevitable mistakes are resulting from the rise of do-it-yourself legal website and software plans. 

Such legal challenges and family disputes are costly. Initial paperwork and discovery alone can potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars. Mediation provides individuals the opportunity to avoid litigation and resolve disputes confidentially on their own terms, rather than at the mercy of the crowded court system. A trained, neutral mediator works to facilitate a settlement between parties. Disputing parties voice their concerns, address their issues, and then work together toward an amicable outcome.

Mediation offers a broader range of solutions. Unlike litigation, in which the law limits the remedies available to a judge to resolve a dispute, mediation can address the non-legal and other practical issues that may be at the root of the conflict. With every family and situation having its own particular challenges, such flexibility in options is valued and useful.   

By requiring the parties to work together on an agreeable solution, mediation emphasizes maintaining and repairing family relationships. With mediation, everyone has a chance to be heard and move past the underlying emotional issues to reach an outcome that fits the specific situation and varying interests of all involved.

Finally, whereas a dispute in a courtroom could go on for years, mediation provides a mutually acceptable result in a known time frame.

– Attorney Eido Walny is the owner of Walny Legal Group in Milwaukee.

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