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Mediation can avoid trial in probate litigation

As the summer ends and school starts, the family vacation(s) in the mountains or lakes are also winding down. Maybe there is still one left over the Labor Day holiday.

These vacations allow for time with your parents and siblings allowing cousins to play and bond over the years. Is there a summer home where everyone stayed? What happens to it when your parents are gone? A fight over this home is one of the most common family inheritance-related conflicts. It is tough to solve, because of the emotional ties to these properties.

Another mediation model for families

When initial smoldering resentments escalate and disagreements become heated, it can lead to litigation. Usually, a judge will order mediation as one of the early steps in the litigation process.

For some this seems a hurdle to get into the courtroom, but it offers an opportunity to resolve the conflicts in a cost effective and more efficient manner. One type called transformative mediation may work for families with the added benefit of salvaging relationships.

While it can take longer than traditional mediation, the goal is to get the people involved thinking differently.

How did this model originate? The Postal Service had found that even after reaching settlements, poisonous relationships remained between employees. Working with several professors, they created a new method based on transformative mediation with improved communication and empowered participants to take a more direct role in dispute resolution. It worked.

As with all mediation, the process starts with an impartial mediator listening to understand each side’s concerns. Sessions often start with a messy airing of grievances, but then they can move forward. There is seldom a quick, easy answer.

Small steps can become the foundation to reach resolution. If nothing else, resolving some issues in mediation leaves fewer that a judge must decide.

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