What Is the Goal?
A form of alternative dispute resolution, probate mediation is a confidential and voluntary process that assists parties in resolving disputes related to estate administration. The process is facilitated by a neutral third-party mediator who guides the involved parties toward their own resolution. While full participation in mediation is always voluntary, for cases already in litigation, judges can and often do order the parties to attempt mediation. It is an important process for everyone engage in a will, trust, or other probate dispute to understand.
The ultimate goal of probate mediation is to find successful resolutions to probate disputes, reducing conflict and the need for courtroom litigation, a costly, time-consuming process. It is a less formal, and more flexible, process than litigation. It allows the parties themselves to craft a resolution instead of leaving the decision up to a judge or jury.
When is Probate Mediation Appropriate?
Probate mediation can be invaluable and particularly useful when tensions arise among family members or beneficiaries over how an estate should be distributed or managed. Mediation may also become a viable tool when there are challenges to the validity of various estate planning documents.
Common estate administration and probate issues that may benefit from mediation include:
- Disputes over the distribution of assets
- Disagreements among beneficiaries
- Challenges to the validity of wills or trust documents
- Disputes over the interpretation or execution of a will or trust
However, probate mediation is not suitable for every situation. For instance, mediation may be inadequate if there is a dispute regarding the validity of a will or trust due to allegations of undue influence or coercion in their creation. This is a severe legal concern that often requires formal litigation.
The Importance of Legal Representation in Probate Mediation
While the mediator plays a crucial role in the process, it's essential to remember that their position is a neutral one. As such, they do not represent either party nor have the power to make legally binding decisions. Their role is merely to facilitate conversation and assist in the negotiation process. This is where legal representation becomes critical. Your attorney can provide the necessary guidance, helping you understand your rights, Michigan estate and probate law, and the implications of the discussions and decisions made during mediation.
In addition to representing clients in mediations, Andrew Mayoras is a certified mediator focusing on probate disputes and acts as mediator for disputes involving wills, trusts, estates, and other probate issues.
You can reach us to schedule a free initial consultation by submitting your information or by calling 248-213-9514 (Michigan) or 941-222-2199 (Florida).