In California, probate disputes can often become very emotional and involve many complexities. As an alternative to going to court, parties to a probate dispute can use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods to reach an amicable and efficient outcome. The following describes the three main types of ADR used to handle probate disputes.
Mediation is a method of arbitrating that involves a neutral third party to help the parties to the dispute communicate more productively. The mediator’s goal is to help each side understand the other’s viewpoint and reach solutions that both sides can agree upon. The process is voluntary, and all parties can engage willingly through constructive discussions.
As an alternative to probate litigation, mediation is less expensive and thus can preserve the estate’s assets. It occurs in an informal, non-adversarial setting, often leading to more practical and amicable dispute resolution.
Voluntary settlement conference
This program works similarly to mediation, providing a structured setting with a court-appointed mediator. The parties to the probate dispute negotiate and discuss probate disputes with the mediator’s help.
The outcome is often non-binding, which gives the parties the option to try other resolutions if they fail to reach an agreeable outcome. The court oversees and facilitates the process, which offers some structure and a degree of accountability for both involved parties.
Mandatory settlement conference
A mandatory settlement conference works somewhat the same in terms of mediating to reach an agreement. However, it is a court-ordered process, and the parties must attend and participate in resolving. Each party must also bring their lawyer, and the process involves more structured steps than non-mandatory mediation.
Probate disputes can be draining, and alternative dispute resolution methods can help achieve a favorable outcome. These methods can often help families achieve a timely, harmonious, cost-effective conclusion.