When you hear the term mediation, often people think of divorce and child custody. However, mediation can also be a helpful tool for handling disputes regarding a will or trust. When a person passes away, their estate plan (will) must go through probate in order to be validated. Through probate, the will is verified, property is inventoried, debts and taxes are paid, and then property and assets are distributed. In probate cases with no surprises, this can be a relatively east process. However, if a family member is upset they were left out of the will, the can contest the probate. Litigation can also ensue if a family member or interested party feels that a trustee is mishandling the trust. When these conflicts arise, they can be handled through the Jefferson County Court. But, sometimes things can be resolved through mediation.
How Does Mediation Work in Lakewood?
In Lakewood and Mountainview, mediation allows for the parties with the conflict to meet with a neutral third party to see if things can be worked out without ultimately arguing to the judge. One benefit of mediation is that it can preserve relationships. When you are contesting a will or disputing the management of a trust, you are often criticizing someone that you are related to or know. Things tend to get more contentious as they progress in the courtroom. Mediation offers an avenue for those to come together and try to come to an agreement before it gets too contentious.
The Mediation Process: What Will My Will and Trust Mediation Look Like?
Mediation begins when the two parties and a mediator set up a time to meet. Attorneys can be present during mediation as well. The mediator will need to have access to all the relevant documents (estate documents or trust paperwork) and may ask for this beforehand to be prepared for the meeting. The mediator will likely start by asking what the best case scenario resolution would be from each party. This is the starting point, where both parties will work to move to a middle ground compromise. The mediator is there to help guide the conversation, without giving advice or opinions. If the parties can reach an agreement, then a settlement agreement is provided. Everyone involved needs to review and sign the agreement. If there is no settlement, then the matter can proceed to court.