Mediation in Estate Disuputes

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article discussing the use of mediation as a method to resolve estate and trust disputes.  The Journal asked a series of questions to William Zabel, a Estate and Trust Attorney from New York.

According to Mr. Zabel, a driving force of estate disputes center around the lack of clarity in the Will regarding who receives the Decedent’s tangible personal property.  This can include anything from clothes, furniture and antiques to jewelry and automobiles.  As one can imagine, if the Will says “everyone receives an equal share of the personal property”, determining who inherits the jewelry collection or the crystal glasses can become difficult.

Additionally, Mr. Zabel warns that sibling rivalry, including influence from in-laws, and over-aggressive attorneys are at the root of why most mediation proceedings break down.  However, the reduced cost of the mediation process versus the expense of litigation is sometimes the best way to entice all parties to at least attempt mediation, which Mr. Zabel recommends.  Additionally, Mr. Zabel says, “But in general, the lasting anger and bitterness of litigation doesn’t seem to occur when matters are settled by mediation.”

Mediation is one of several tools implemented by the attorneys at Ford + Bergner LLP.  Managing Partner Don D. Ford III completed the required course work to become certified as a mediator at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University’s School of Law in Malibu, California.

If you have questions regarding settling an estate and trust matter, contact our office today.