Probate Litigation: How To Minimize Family Strife
After a loved one has passed away, the resulting emotions are often intense. In the midst of your pain, disputes over the terms of a will can amplify long-standing family grievances, leading to deep ruptures that take years to heal. In the worst-case scenario, these feuds can tear families apart permanently. At Mason & Helmers, we are uniquely sensitive to these concerns. Minimizing family strife in probate litigation is no small thing. When you are faced with potential legal action against family members, here are some things to consider.
Is Litigation The Right Choice?
You may consider the issue in your probate dispute to be especially egregious. However, when you explore your legal options with our attorneys, we will always take reasonable steps to avoid litigation if at all possible.
In some cases, mediation or arbitration can produce the same result as going to trial, but more quickly and at a fraction of the cost. While still a robust process, it can avoid some of the hard feelings that come with the adversarial setting of the courtroom.
If Litigation Is Unavoidable
The unfortunate reality is that not all disputes can be successfully mediated. If litigation is necessary, our legal team will work as quickly and efficiently as possible. By minimizing the amount of time you spend involved in a trial, you can direct your resources toward processing grief and maintaining family relationships.
Minimizing Conflict: Guidance For Executors
Executors of an estate have a unique responsibility, which can come with significant risks if family dynamics are already volatile. If a dispute has not yet erupted over a will, but you fear that it could, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Communicate openly and often. Family members are more likely to mistrust a process if they do not know what to expect. Set down the ground rules, be clear about what you are doing and when you are doing it, and establish expectations as early as possible.
- Bring in a third party, if appropriate. You are the expert on your family. If you believe that conflict is unavoidable, bringing in a neutral third party early on can be a tremendous asset. This could be a lawyer or other skilled mediator.
- Take care of yourself. Being the executor of an estate can be exhausting. To best serve the beneficiaries — and yourself — it is important to avoid being consumed by the process. Set clear boundaries around when you will address estate issues and when you will not, and ask people to respect those boundaries.
Efficient, Effective Legal Assistance
Mason & Helmers is committed to helping you resolve estate conflicts in the most efficient manner possible. If you have questions, please reach out. We are available through our online form, or else by phone: 651-323-2548 or 877-389-5533 (toll free).
Based in St. Paul, we serve Minneapolis, the Twin Cities metro area and greater Minnesota.