Of all of the cases I have mediated over the past 30 years, the most challenging and rewarding disputes have been those between family members over family property, estates, trusts and businesses.
Conflict can touch anyone, at any time of life. In this article, I talk about end-of-life conflict, specifically those disputes related to hospice. I explore who is involved, why disputes arise, and reasons they are hard to resolve. I also speak about the importance of having a mediator as part of the hospice team.
Inheritance disputes can be difficult to resolve. They are tied up in a lifetime of emotions toward the deceased and every other claimant under the will, as well as personal and spousal expectations of monetary gain. Here are 10 tips and tricks that have helped with this kind of dispute.
In Guthrie v. Guthrie, the validity of a divorce agreement was called into question due to one party's state of mind at the signing. A complicating issue was husband's death during the proceedings.
Timing is everything. In complex family disputes the simple fact is that mediation can be the forum for positive change, the tipping point, but it needs a number of preconditions to be successful.
Janet E. Mitchell
The article describes how families can work together in making collaborative decisions regarding the care of elderly parents. It defines and explains family mediation, noting the kinds of topics that can be discussed.
Mediation with its “structural requirement” that parties focus on and value the dynamics of their relationships and interests before grabbing at specific options can be a powerful process tool for families struggling with difficult personal property distribution issues.
David Gage, John Gromala
How much better would this world be if
we all believed that most disputes could
be avoided? Mediation is offered as a
tool to reach agreement, but the hard
work of mediating a dispute requires a
knowledgeable, experienced professional.
These authors offer observations and
strategies based on their expertise and
successes in the field.
The estate settlement process has many areas of potential conflict that
mediation can often handle far more effectively than ad hoc family
negotiations and traditional legal proceedings. Why is mediation effective
in this complex emotional field and what can we do to promote its use more
Mediation provides an ideal opportunity for the parties to air their differences, feelings, opinions, perceived slights, etc., giving the parties the opportunity to hear, consider and respond to each others’ perspectives and possibly change their own position accordingly. This could result in a measurable reduction in the inefficient use of court resources.
Unlike J.R. Ewing in Dallas, controversy arises among families and business owners more often as a result of misunderstanding than malevolent motives. When people get beyond the resistance and begin working together on an estate plan MOU or partnership charter, they discover that openly dealing with issues lessens the likelihood of misperception, builds trust and confidence, and improves their chances for long-term success.
John A. Gromala & David F. Gage
Mediators can provide a critical service to both trustees and beneficiaries. Being independent, with no stake in the outcome, they can meet with the parties together and separately to help them focus on a search for a solution that meets the needs of all.
Use of an independent mediator during the planning process can help estate planners improve client satisfaction, reduce the probability of family litigation and avoid malpractice claims.