Navigating Inheritance Disputes With Probate Mediation
Inheritance disputes are unfortunately common, often reflecting a disparity between an executor’s responsibilities and what they actually do for the decedent’s estate. However, there are multiple ways to handle these concerns. Probate can be litigious. The estate planning lawyers at Entz Burton & Associates focus on probate and estate planning needs in Oklahoma City which makes us the natural choice for complicated probate disputes. Call us at 405-773-9800 to set up a time to talk to our team now.
While mediation is often a viable option for families, there are situations where probate litigation is necessary. If someone has stolen property from the decedent’s estate and refuses to account for it or return it, the executor is wantonly wasting the estate’s assets with no plan to stop, or the executor refuses to communicate with the beneficiaries and heirs, litigation may be the only way to intervene quickly enough to stop the money flowing out of the estate.
An Overview of Inheritance Disputes
Inheritance disputes arise in a variety of probate situations. They may originate from:
- The executor failing to care for the assets and fulfill their other duties
- The executor stealing from the estate or lavishly paying themselves from the estate
- A dispute over the legitimacy of the will
- Property wrongfully left out of the estate
- Executor refusing to provide a copy of the will
- Executor failing to account
- Executor improperly benefiting from estate assets
The Role of Probate Mediation
When a loved one’s assets are at risk and seem to be decreasing by the hour, there’s often an urge to leap to litigation. However, you may find that mediation is a good option for your family. Mediation is a neutral process facilitated by an outside mediator. The mediator strives to resolve your inheritance disputes with open dialogue, negotiation, and a broader understanding of what’s at stake if litigation occurs. Mediation is often a more affordable and timely option for family members, as litigation can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars on both sides and lead to prolonged court proceedings. When both parties can come to an agreement without going to court, everyone benefits.
Exploring the Probate Mediation Process
As you think about whether or not mediation is the right option for you, take a few minutes to learn about the mediation process and what it requires of both parties:
- Select a mediator: Parties should choose a mediator with extensive experience in probate matters. The mediator should have no previous ties to either party.
- Meet with the mediator individually: Each party gets a chance to meet with the mediator individually to discuss their concerns and what they hope to get out of mediation. They may also learn about the laws governing probate in Oklahoma.
- Participate in mediation sessions: Both sides participate in mediation. The parties may be in the same room or in separate rooms, depending on their relationship and their ability to have a calm conversation.
- Figure out each side’s goals and priorities: During mediation, both parties can communicate openly about their grievances and potential solutions. The mediator guides the conversation to keep it productive and ensure that both parties get a chance to express themselves.
- Explore options and come to an agreement: As both parties get a better understanding of each other, they may consider different solutions and agree on one. Ideally, they will agree on a solution and draw it up in a legally enforceable document.
Note that this is how things go if everything goes according to plan. It doesn’t always go that smoothly. Either party can walk away from mediation at any time, at which point litigation may be the only option for the aggrieved party.
Benefits and Outcomes
There are numerous benefits that come with mediation. It’s an excellent option for those who want to preserve familial relationships. If probate is the first serious issue you’ve experienced with your family, mediation may help you mend that relationship with minimal permanent damage. As noted earlier, mediation also usually costs less and takes less time than litigation. This benefits both parties and their goal for a swift resolution. Through mediation, parties can work together to come to a customized solution that meets both of their needs—if their case goes to court, they are bound by whatever decision the judge makes. They have no control over the outcome anymore.
Protect Yourself With A Lawyer at Entz Burton & Associates
If you’re caught up in a messy probate dispute after the death of a loved one, it is time to talk to the probate attorneys at Entz Burton & Associates. We’ll support you as you explore possible probate solutions. Call us at 405-773-9800 or reach out online now.
Attorney J. Michael Entz at Entz Burton & Associates is an experience lawyer in estate planning law, business formation and asset protection serving the families in Oklahoma City and Weatherford office.