SETTLEMENTS MADE EASY BY PROBATE MEDIATION
In general, Probate mediation in Los Angeles will bring you faster and better results than trials. Why? Mediations costs are very low relative to trials. Trials involving probate can cost upwards of $100,000 in most circumstances. A one-day mediation can cost about $10,000.
Trial setting is very slow in Los Angeles County. Judges wait until discovery is completed and that delay can cause the Los Angeles Probate Court to set the trial out one or two years. Litigants have various suitable alternatives in resolving probate and trust cases by agreeing to attend mediation sessions in lieu of litigating. Alternative Dispute Resolution is a term of art used for settling cases outside of court. Settlement agreements can be crafted and negotiated in an informal setting, minimizing the stresses which come about as a result of litigation.
The Probate Court in Los Angeles has a joint settlement officer program with the San Fernando Valley Bar Association. The program offers a free three-hour mediation session. Many cases get resolved during that time. You can sign up for the settlement program online here. You can take advantage of the 3 hour session to see if you can quickly settle the case. The program is very effective and lawyers often use this mediation to bring families together in Los Angeles.
Instead of waiting years to be heard by a judge, you can also submit your matter to a retired judge who is well-experienced in probate and trust matters. In Los Angeles County, there are several companies who offer services of retired judges in mediations. Family law cases are also suitable for mediation. Matters involving visitation and custody of children can be informally agreed upon in mediation, which stipulation can then be submitted to the court to become a judgment.
Most Conservatorship and Estate matters are technically family matters. In estates, heirs have common issues, such as who should be the executor of the estate, and the amount of appropriate distributions to each heir. Many times, the disputes are not about what is occurring in the estate now, but rather what took place in the family many years ago. Mediation gives you the opportunity to mend your differences and lets parties save face.
PRIVATE MEDIATION HELPS MAINTAIN PRIVACY OF FAMILY DISPUTES INVOLVING BUSINESSES
Complex trust and estate matters are also best suited for mediation. Cases that would otherwise require many expert witnesses can get resolved informally when appropriate attention is given to them in mediating the disputes. There are many times where probate estate disputes are mixed with trust litigation, as the decedent left both a will and a trust, and distributions may be different in each instrument. Self-made will and trust documents often pose issues of ambiguity which are simple to fix informally, but very difficult to fix at trials due to strict evidentiary rules.
Privacy counts in family businesses. When you have a family dispute that involves a business or partnership, you may want to consider keeping the family squabbles in close quarters in private mediation. Family disputes after death generally affect the value of a business and how the public perceives the business. You can avoid changes in the public’s perception of the business by not airing out the partner disputes in a probate or trust matter among employees and customers.
Lost wills and trusts also pose situations which require flexibility on the part of litigants, and creativity on the part of mediators and attorneys who can discuss simple ways in molding each party’s needs with what can be accomplished outside of court. In mediated trust cases, with the agreement of the beneficiaries, a trust can even be modified after death, with the approval of the court after a successful mediation agreement is drafted.