One of the most effective ways to reduce these lawsuits' stress and costs is through mediation. Mediation may resolve estate disputes with minimal conflict, and give all parties the closure they need to move on.
Mediation Eases the Burden of Estate Litigation
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that takes place outside a courtroom. Sessions are conducted by a qualified mediator (commonly a retired estate litigation attorney or judge) who helps guide the parties to a mutually-agreeable solution.
Mediation may be right for you if:
- You want to keep costs low. Alternative dispute resolution is typically less expensive than continuing down the lengthy and expensive road to trial.
- You want to keep your options open. Any solutions posed by the mediator or attorneys in the case are non-binding unless the requisite parties agree to settle. If you try to resolve the problem through mediation, but an agreement is not reached, the case can continue to trial.
- You want to protect your privacy. Any details discussed in mediation, including potential settlement figures, are privileged and confidential. If the case goes to court, anything discussed in mediation will not be admissible.
The Role of a Lawyer in Mediation Sessions
It’s important to understand that the mediator does not give either party legal advice or represent their interests. Even if you choose mediation, you should still have your own lawyer who will make the necessary preparations leading up to the mediation and will zealously advocate for you during the mediation.
Our legal team can guide you through mediation by:
- Finding common ground. Most people who file estate litigation lawsuits aren’t being unreasonable or combative, but feel like they have no other choice. Family members who have gotten along for years can be torn apart over a disagreement regarding a loved one's estate. Mediation is collaborative instead of contentious, allowing beneficiaries to analyze the situation and work together on a solution.
- Questioning motivation. Estate disputes often involve longstanding family conflicts, relationships, and arguments that persist far beyond the issue at hand. Parties are often emotionally charged and may lose sight of what the deceased may have wanted. An attorney steers parties away from peripheral information and “bad blood,” focusing on the application of the law to practical solutions.
- Gathering evidence. Evidence is a vital part of an estate dispute. While the parties may have intimate knowledge of the facts of the dispute, expeirienced counsel will help zero in on the most consequential facts, disregarding the many peripheral matters and red herrings.
- Keeping relatives at a safe distance. It’s rare to have both parties meet face-to-face during mediation. Instead, parties are put in separate rooms with their counsel, or even remain in separate locations while appearing by phone or video communications. The mediator will hear both sides of the dispute and issue potential solutions. This keeps tempers even during negotiations and gives you the freedom to express your emotions in a safe place.
- Posing creative compromise. Often, no legal remedy exists that would completely satisfy everyone. If the case goes before a judge, it’s entirely possible that neither party would get what they wanted. Mediation focuses on reasonable solutions and gives both parties control over the outcome of the dispute.
Let Us Help You Resolve Your Dispute
The attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A. have helped clients across Florida with all probate and estate litigation matters, and we would be happy to advise you on your next steps. Please call us at (727) 777-6842 or use our quick contact form to get started.