General and Mrs. Waverly own the Pinetree Lodge and are the parents of five children. Unexpectedly, General Waverly dies of a heart attack and the family has no idea how to handle the estate, take care of his personal and business obligations or figure out what is going to happen to the business.
When someone dies there is an automatic potential for conflict involving all the people the decedent left behind. Four months after the death the once lucrative business is in chaos. Family members who own the business are accused of misfeasance by other family members. One of the children attempted to encumber the family estate for personal benefits to the exclusion of others. These are just some of the challenges we face after someone’s death.
Trustee malfeasance, co-mingling and self-dealing along with sibling rivalry may present huge hurdles in the transformation of this family unit. Issues of undue influence, failure to allocate and encumbering, developing or converting assets may destroy once accepted trust shared by the family unit.
Conflicts develop between trustees, executers and beneficiaries.
Conservatorship, guardianships and blended families along with dysfunctional families give rise to family discord.
Traditionally, family estate succession conflicts envisioned “winner-loser” scenarios; distributive bargaining where if somebody wants a bigger piece of the pie someone else had to settle for a smaller piece of pie. Inheritance disputes, interstate succession, mental incapacity and undue
influence always generate rifts which if untreated can become irreparable. Our mediators use integrative bargaining techniques to help the family member seek to satisfy their interests by exploring options that may generate an amicable resolution for all – a win-win result.
Mediating family estate succession issues may avoid public disclosure that will occur with a public trial; it may tend to preserve family harmony and privacy and it is especially appropriate in the shadow of a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one where family members are disputing but they want to maintain the family relationship.
Mediation is appropriate where the decedent wants resolution without probate. Here you can maintain confidentiality, reduce court costs, do it in less time and preserve family relationships. In these situations the mediator can facilitate family harmony, encourage the parties to work out the problems themselves, engage in joint problem solving and many times help resolve issues beyond the “legal” issues that area normally presented.