The use of mediation in estate planning can increase client satisfaction, decrease the likelihood of family litigation, and help attorneys avoid malpractice claims.
Benefits of Mediation
Frequently, people don’t disclose information that they consider embarrassing, unimportant, or confidential during the estate planning process. As a result, estate planners and attorneys are often working with incomplete information.
A mediator acts as a facilitator in the process. He doesn’t represent any one party involved, give legal advice, or make decisions. His purpose is to make sure that the lines of communication remain open between all parties involved.
The mediator has the ability to speak confidentially with all parties, giving him access to the most complete set of information of anyone involved in the estate planning process.
Frequently in estate planning, individuals harbor hidden agendas that are not disclosed to spouses, children, or other family members. If an attorney is representing the entire group, then conflicts of interest could arise due to these hidden agendas. This can compromise the entire process.
Since the mediator doesn’t represent anyone, there is no potential for conflicts of interest to arise. He has the ability to gather a complete picture of the issues in order to help all of the parties involved come together to resolve their problems and make informed decisions.
Role of the Mediator
A mediator helps resolve the conflicts that arise in the process due to breakdowns in communication.
The mediator will always defer to the attorney, making sure he doesn’t undermine the attorney’s legal advice. The mediator’s job is to aid the attorneys in the planning of the estate agreement by providing them with a more detailed account of everyone’s wishes and desires.
Since a mediator’s relationship with each party is confidential, he can only disclose the information that they authorize him to share. The mediator can provide attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors with important information about the subjective interests and agendas of each client that need to be dealt with in the final estate planning document.
Jacoby & Meyers Can Help
The mediators at Jacoby & Meyers are all highly trained and certified according to state mandated requirements. We can assist you in all of your estate planning needs. Our mediators specialize in facilitating the difficult communication process involved in estate planning so that you accomplish your goals on the first try. We can help you avoid bitter litigation down the road when an estate needs to be settled.