Role of Mediation in Estate Dispute

Mediation, a confidential meeting that takes place between two parties, is frequently used as an alternative to going to court when challenging or contesting a Will.

Mediation is popular within Estate disputes as not only is it a far more cost-effective way of resolving the dispute, but it’s main goal is to come to an agreement which makes both parties happy. Moreover, as the parties during mediation are considering the other side’s wants as well as their own, it helps them ensure the relationship with the other side isn’t permanently damaged. This is an important element of the process, as Estate disputes often occur between family members.

Unfortunately, ensuring that the relationship maintains as healthy as possible during the legal process in not a priority which is attended to during length court battles. Court battles in themselves tend to almost always break down a relationship and it is one of the key reasons why Hentys Lawyers consistently choose Mediation rather than litigation where possible within Estate Disputes.

Who attends mediation?

The Executor/Administrator of the Estate will attend the meeting with their lawyer to represent their interests. The individual(s) who are contesting or challenging the Will, will also attend with their lawyer to act in the same regard, and a ‘Mediator’ (often a lawyer or other suitable person for the role) will act as a neutral third party.

Where and how is mediation held?

Mediation most commonly is held face to face in a ‘conference room’ environment rather than a formal court room. It is up to the parties where to meet, but the location is typically neutral ground.

Role of the Mediator

A professional mediator is engaged by both parties to act as a completely independent third party. Their role is to guide discussion and to ensure the proper process is followed. They remain impartial and do not have any authority to make decisions regarding the settlement – that is entirely up to the parties. Instead, the mediator encourages both parties to consider different viewpoints in the hope that they will reach a mutually agreeable solution.

How does it end?

If a mutually agreeable solution is reached, it will be written down. This then acts as a binding agreement between both sides and so long as it is signed it acts as the resolution to the dispute.

So, if you think you may have a Wills/Estate dispute on your hands but you’re too nervous to get in touch with the team – worry no more! In the last 5 years not one of our Estate disputes has made its way to court, everything has been settled by the cost and relationship effective mediation. If that’s not peace of mind, I don’t know what is! Speak to one of the Team today.

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