When family members start fighting over the estate of a loved one, the battle can turn acrimonious.
There is almost no way for there to be a civil intra-family estate dispute, unless the case goes to trial before a judge.
When family members start testifying against each other it is extremely difficult for the wounds to heal. To avoid this problem, many courts prefer that families to try to solve their disputes through other methods before a case goes to trial.
A common way to do this is for the litigants to be sent to mediation which the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog discussed in “Court Rejects Effort to Avoid Settlement Agreement.”
In mediation a trained, neutral third party attempts to facilitate an agreement between the parties to the dispute. A mediator will often try to get the parties to see the other person’s side and to compromise.
Even when mediation does not instantly help the parties to reach an agreement, it often helps to clarify the issues. Many feuding family members do decide to reach post-mediation settlements.
Mediation does not always work. Some people feel that they are pressured into settling during mediation.
For that reason, it is important to have an attorney during estate litigation as courts are reluctant to allow people who have second thoughts out of any agreements reached during mediation.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Oct. 25, 2017) “Court Rejects Effort to Avoid Settlement Agreement.”