Trust and Estate Mediations

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

A mediation is when a neutral third party, the “mediator,” aids disputing parties in reaching a resolution to the conflict through a structured, interactive process. There are many types of conflicts involving a trust or estate that benefit from being resolved through mediation. It does not matter whether or not the disagreement has risen to the level where the parties are already entrenched in litigation. Mediation may still be an option. It is a valuable option when you consider the time and money the parties will save with mediation as they avoid more time in court.

Whether a family member is upset that they have been cut out of a will, a beneficiary who wishes to challenge the discretion of the trust administrator, or a beneficiary who is upset at poor management of the trust that led to a bad investment, a great deal can be accomplished through mediation. The parties in conflict have the opportunity to resolve the issue in a less expensive and less time consuming manner. Additionally, mediation is less adversarial. Parties work together to come to a mutually agreeable resolution. This can be important in trust and estate matters as the problems have usually arisen between family members. Mediation can work to preserve whatever positive family relationship still exists between the parties.

What Happens at an Estate or Trust Mediation?

The mediation process officially begins when the mediator arranges a time for all parties involved to meet. The parties will have to sign an Agreement to Mediate as well as a Fee Agreement for the mediator’s services. The mediator will also need to have access to all relevant trust or estate documents.

The mediator will take all relevant information provided in order to get a clear scope of the situation. The mediation will usually start with the mediator finding out what the “best case resolution” for all parties would be. From this starting point, the mediation, if successful, will move towards a middle ground where all parties can meet in agreement.

It is important to note the role of the mediator. The mediator is there to foster open, but controlled, communication and will do so in conversations that can be very emotional and involve serious financial repercussions for the people involved. The mediator is not there to tell the parties what they should do. Advice is not something a mediator is there to provide. Instead, the mediator facilitates creating a flow of open communication and encourage the parties to reach a consensual agreement that they can all benefit from.

If a settlement is achieved through the mediation, the settlement agreement will be provided to all parties for review. Everyone will need to approve and sign the agreement. The settlement agreement will also breakdown the legal costs incurred by the parties in the mediation. Sometimes, the costs will be paid from the residuary estate. More commonly, the parties pay their costs from their own share of the estate.

Twin Cities Trust and Estate Law Firm Providing Mediation Services.

Unique Estate Law believes in the power of mediation. We are proud to provide trust and estate mediation services to the Twin Cities. Contact us today.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.