I have often seen inheritances – sometimes small and other times large – squandered on litigation. I can just imagine the number of deceased testators turning in their graves as arguments rage in court over the hard-earned fortune they tried so hard to protect from inheritance tax only to see (well, maybe they won’t actually see) it wasted over fruitless and sometimes frivolous disputes. What is clear in many of these situations is that the parties have usually not taken the possibility of mediation into account. They go head-first into litigation without taking account of the financial cost and the emotional toll. What about the effect on their relationships as parties are pitted against each other? As each party tries to get witnesses that will help their own side, relatives find themselves having to take one side or other. How are these people – usually family members – expected to go forward with their lives after the case? What about family weddings and christenings and other family situations. Litigation generally doesn’t bode well for family relationships going forward. Could mediation have bring about a different effect?
Of course, it doesn’t always end happily ever after, but mediation can achieve so much more for the parties in a probate dispute. It allows them to have the opportunity, sometimes for the first time, to understand the other’s feelings about what is going on. It is never all about money alone – emotions are always wrapped up in it. Getting to the bottom of what is driving the parties is crucial to resolving the dispute and allowing the parties to move forward with some level of co0peration.
Although mediation does not guarantee an amicable resolution, there is a much better chance of the parties walking away with a resolution they can live with and can be more hopeful of ending up in a better position to rebuild fractured relationships.
As a mediator, I practise collaborative mediation where both parties work together to reach an agreement they can live with. Mediation is held on neutral premises, convenient to the location of both parties and is usually held over a period of one day. The mediation is therefore time-limited and this helps to concentrate the parties’ minds on making a real effort to reach an agreement by the end of the allotted period.
Please contact me to see how I can help you resolve your probate disputes, even if the other side is not interested in mediation.
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