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When is mediation a good alternative in a probate dispute?

As this blog has mentioned many times, probate disputes are oftentimes costly both in terms of legal fees and in terms of time and emotional stress. For Minnesota families involved in probate litigation, it is usually important that the case get resolved quickly and efficiently. In some situations, an expensive, protracted case can amount to a de facto legal defeat for a family, even if the family technically wins the case in court.

This is why mediation is an attractive option for many families who are forced to go through a probate battle in order to protect their rights. Unlike a trial, mediation takes place behind closed doors, and a cloak of confidentiality and privacy surround the process.

Moreover, mediation usually gives angry family members a chance to express their feelings freely. While speaking freely can backfire, it often is the first step in healing broken family relationships and can, in some cases, effectively end the dispute. Mediation also allows those entangled in a probate battle to fashion a creative solution that might not be possible via a trial. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a mediation will almost undoubtedly save an estate attorney fees, which means that all heirs benefit.

On the other hand, mediation might not be right for all probate cases. Sometimes, emotional barriers like grief can prevent a successful mediation, at least in the short term. Also, the parties involved obviously have to want to resolve a dispute through mediation. If a dispute is longstanding or particularly acrimonious, mediation may be a waste of time and money since no one will be willing to compromise.

Mediation is a process through which Minnesota families can resolve a probate dispute well prior to a court trial. While it can be advantageous for many families, the facts and circumstances of a specific case will ultimately determine whether mediation is appropriate.

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Mason & Helmers
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