Probate Mediation in Los Angeles, California
What is Probate Mediation?
Probate mediation is the process of dispute resolution in which parties voluntarily agree to collaborate with each other in a confidential process to jointly work to resolve issues they may have. Through mediation, parties can save lots of money, avoid much grief and build a positive relationship whether or not a full settlement agreement is achieved in the process. Whether or not the parties have engaged attorneys, mediation with an experienced private mediator has significant advantages and no known disadvantages.
Probate mediation is available in connection with proceedings filed or eligible to be filed in the Probate Court, which court handles the administration of trusts and estates. The Probate Court also deals with matters of conservatorships and guardianships. Probate mediation is the parties working with a neutral third party to jointly problem solve and collaboratively seek agreement to resolve their dispute that relates to Probates matters. If successful in mediation, the parties may completely avoid having to deal with the courts, other than filing of documents to validate their agreements whether those agreements resolve all or only some of the issues that must be addressed. Time, money and emotional costs are saved in the process. The parties fully participate in the decision making process.
Mediation is distinguished from litigation in that it is voluntary, confidential and the parties themselves are in the end the decision-makers, not a judge or jury.
Traditional litigation proceedings are adversarial. Each side fights to maximize its benefits, often at the expense of the other party. In doing so, it is possible to expend huge sums of money. Litigation over any dispute is traumatic, expensive, time consuming, and most often irrational.
If the mediation effort is not fully successful, the parties retain their options to seek relief from the courts – a process that is time consuming, expensive and filled with uncertainty regarding the outcome.
Advantages of Mediation over Litigation:
- Confidential—Differences can be worked out in private, not in a public trial
- Less expensive—Significantly lower costs, often 90% less than litigation
- Faster resolution—Can save literally years over slower, court-based dissolution
- Better communication—Parties learn to communicate in more constructive ways
- Improved future—Collaboration sets a positive tone that continues
Probate Mediation and the California Courts
The budget for the California court system has been drastically reduced in recent years—by as much as 65%. Court employees have been laid off, courtrooms have been closed, and services have been dramatically curtailed. Getting a court date or even a simple signature can take months if not years, and attorney costs can be exorbitant.
In traditional lawsuits justice is often upstaged by the “golden rule”—he who has the most gold (i.e., the most expensive lawyer) wins. And the winner takes all. This approach has never been optimal for the resolution of business related disputes.
Mediation is a viable, essential alternative to litigation in the courts at a time when the California courts are unable to provide the normal services expected—and the picture does not appear to be brighter in the foreseeable future.
Los Angeles Attorney-Mediator Michael H. White
San Fernando Valley-based mediation lawyer Michael H. White has mediated scores of complex business, probate and personal injury cases and has taught mediation and other ADR techniques at the university level. His objective, in addition to providing fairness and equity among the parties, is to recognize and fashion a result that may preserve the ongoing relationships of the parties as they resolve disputes.
Call Michael now for a free consultation: (818) 368-0444