Elder Law

Is Elder Care Mediation Right for Your Family?

What Exactly is Elder Law?

Elder Law is an area of Family Law related to the care of elderly or dependent persons. As the number of aging persons increases in our society, the opportunities for family disputes arising out of the needs and care of aging parents will only increase.

Advance planning by a parent can prevent many family disputes. But advance preparation is too often not the norm. And families can also be caught off guard by quickly deteriorating health issues that require additional support and care.

Elder Law and Elder Abuse Law

Elderly or dependent adults can be extremely vulnerable, especially when neglected or not properly cared for. Often, neglect or abuse occurs because caretakers are unaware of elder care services that may be available.

Elder laws have been enacted in response to abuses that have occurred in the past, which include not only physical and emotional harm to the elderly or dependent person, but also the taking of properties and valuables by fraud or embezzlement, depriving a person of the care they need, and sometimes holding the person essentially as a prisoner.

Anyone who knows, or reasonably should know, that an elderly or dependent person is living under circumstances which are likely to produce harm or injury, yet who willfully causes or permits the elderly person to suffer, may be punished severely.

Resolving elder care disputes through litigation is appropriate when there is intentional elder abuse or neglect. But many elder care disputes do not involve intentional harm or neglect, and are better resolved outside of the courts, through elder mediation.

Elder Mediation / Elder Care Mediation

Family disputes related to the care of elderly parents can be resolved in a peaceful and economic manner through the use of a qualified, experienced elder mediator like family law attorney and elder care expert Michael H. White.

Traditional litigation of family law disputes within the courts can often be divisive, destructive, and detrimental to all involved (not to mention expensive). Bringing in lawyers to “resolve” elder disputes often exacerbates the conflicts, adding fuel to the fire.

Elder mediation, by contrast, can be a healing process that not only resolves the specific conflicts, but, if done right, is able to restore broken family relationships and lay the groundwork for harmonious, mutually beneficial relationships.

Advantages of elder mediation:

  • Less cost– Mediation dramatically reduces costs over traditional litigation
  • Faster resolution – Resolutions can be achieved in days and weeks, not years
  • Greater harmony – Improved respect and communication within the family
  • Better elder care– Best possible outcome and care for aging parents and relatives

Often family members are conflicted over the decisions about caregiving that need be made. There may be conflicts between family caregivers, or between the caregivers and the elderly persons themselves. The care of elderly or dependent adults often falls on people who are not related to the person being served or who are not qualified to care for the elderly person. These kinds of family disputes can greatly benefit from the services of an experienced elder mediator.

A classic example is the parent unwilling to give up driving when it is clear that they can no longer safely do so. Few people are trained to resolve such issues without resorting to extremes—either ignoring the problem until an accident occurs, or taking over in a heavy-handed way that robs the elderly person of their dignity and independence.

Through effective communication, mediation can be a way to resolve these kinds of issues before serious harm occurs. It is a completely voluntary process that improves the communication skills of all involved, and helps families achieve a healthy balance between the dignity of the aging person and the safety of them and their potential victims.

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End of Life Issues

Attorney Michael H. White specializes in End of Life Cases

End of life issues are an aspect of Family Law that pertain to the unique issues and needs of people facing immanent death. End of life issues are a specific passion and area of expertise of veteran Los Angeles attorney Michael H. White. He has successfully helped family members resolve medical, financial, health care, and interpersonal problems — to the lasting benefit of the terminally ill and those who care for them.

It is often assumed that “end of life” issues pertain only to the elderly and elder law, but sadly that is not the case. The terminally ill person can be a child, a teenage son or daughter, a sibling or parent, or an older aunt, uncle, grandparent or great-grandparent.

Common “end of life” issues include the physical and mental health deterioration of those who are terminally ill, various health, medical and care decisions that need to be made, complex financial concerns, and the need for caretakers and/or assisted living arrangements—issues that often coincide with the terminally ill person fighting to maintain independence and autonomy.

End of Life Issues – Litigation is not the answer

As the needs and cognitive abilities of a terminally ill person change — especially in those cases where there are substantial financial concerns — disputes often arise among siblings and offspring, particularly in regard to control of assets, decision-making regarding medical treatment, and other issues concerning the well-being of the terminally ill person.

Traditional ways of solving disputes — trials, lawsuits, litigation—are also notoriously expensive, time-consuming, traumatic, and destructive.  Outcomes are uncertain, and can be grossly unfair. Traditional litigation is adversarial by nature, and often creates more problems than it solves. “Justice” is often enjoyed by the party with the most expensive lawyer, and collateral damage, especially within families, is far too common.

With end of life issues, decisions often need to be made quickly.  But California state budget cuts have made the California court system slow and inflexible, unable to address end-of-life cases in an efficient and timely manner.

Is there a better way to solve end of life issues?

Mediation – A Better Solution for End of Life cases

Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution that can be tremendously helpful to the terminally ill and their families. Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process in which parties who are unable to resolve a conflict on their own meet with a neutral third party (a mediator) to work out a mutually satisfactory resolution.

Decision-making to protect and guide a terminally ill person is better resolved in a mediation setting than in the inherently adversarial setting of the courts. In mediation, communications among concerned parties is not discouraged, but rather enabled and enhanced. An experienced mediator who understands in the complexities of end of life issues can help the terminally ill, their families and support systems to cope more positively and effectively with their end of life issues, including the dying and grieving processes that will inevitably follow.

Advantages of Mediation for End of Life Issues include:

  • Confidentiality—Differences can be worked out in private, not in a public trial
  • Cost savings—Legal costs can be dramatically lower
  • Fast resolution—Can save months and even years over court-based litigation
  • Greater control—The entire process is controlled by the disputing parties
  • Better future—Parties can maintain respectful, constructive relationships

End of Life Attorney Michael H. White

Los Angeles attorney, mediator, and arbitrator Michael H. White is an acknowledged authority in Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques for resolving end-of-life, elder law, and family law disputes.  Competent, compassionate and creative, Mr. White combines three decades of traditional private-practice litigation in Southern California with more than a decade of leadership in the world of ADR.  Both as a college professor and as an active practitioner, Mr. White has become a passionate advocate for mediation and arbitration as a way to create more lasting and productive solutions to end of life issues and conflicts for the terminally ill, seniors, and the disabled.

Call Michael White now for a free consultation (818) 368-0444.

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Community Mediation

Community Mediation Services in Los Angeles

What is community mediation?

Community mediation is a process of dispute resolution in which parties in conflict, such as neighbors, voluntarily agree to collaborate with each other in a confidential process to jointly work to resolve issues they may have. Usually, the process is employed in disputes among neighbors or local business entities for amounts in controversy which may not warrant engagement of attorneys or formal proceedings.

At its simplest, community mediation is parties working with a neutral third party, often a volunteer, to jointly problem solve and collaboratively seek agreement to resolve their dispute. If successful, 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 Community 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

Los Angeles Arbitration Attorney Michael H. White

Los Angeles-based mediation lawyer Michael H. White has mediated scores of complex business 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

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Personal Injury

Personal Injury Mediation Services in Los Angeles

What is personal injury mediation?

Personal injury 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.

Frequently in personal injury matters, in addition to the parties, one or more insurance companies may be involved in the process. Though this may relieve the insured party from a sense of personal commitment, an early effort to mediate personal injury claims can be of significant benefit to the parties as well as insurers.

Personal injury 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 injuries that may have occurred to one or more people by automobile, aircraft or boating accident, malpractice or negligence alleged to have been committed by a physician or other medical professional, injuries occurring at work, in public places or even in one’s home. 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

Personal Injury 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 Arbitration Attorney Michael H. White

Los Angeles-based mediation lawyer Michael H. White has mediated scores of complex business 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

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Family Law

Family Law Attorney Los Angeles

Family Lawyer & Family Mediation Expert | Michael H. White

Family law disputes can involve any number of issues: divorce, elder law, probate, child custody, and property settlement matters, among others.  But regardless of the type of family law, all family disputes can benefit in dramatic ways from Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques such as mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law.

These legal processes focus on collaboration rather than competition, and have been developed over the past four decades to resolve family disputes in a non-adversarial way.  They seek to reach mutually beneficial legal solutions, while at the same time reducing the high cost, long delays, emotional anguish, and fearful uncertainty of the traditional family court system.

Family Litigation vs. Family Mediation

Traditional court-based litigation is based on an adversarial model of dispute resolution – which often creates more problems than it solves. Under traditional family law, attorneys are mandated to obtain the best possible outcome for their clients, regardless of the consequences to the other parties – including unrepresented children, or dependent adults, who may be caught in the middle.

All family law disputes involve redefining relationships. For example, divorce redefines a spouse as an “ex-spouse.” Yet those same relationships often continue after the legal papers are signed (e.g., joint custody or joint parenting issues may remain). The traditional divorce process can create lasting scars that impair the development of an amicable, ongoing relationship, which has negative consequences for the children and dependents as well the couple themselves.

Changes in the family relationship will undoubtedly occur – a parent moving out, a child in trouble with the law, an aging parent needing a decision made about his or her care when siblings caretakers cannot agree. But the good news is that, through family mediation, painful family conflicts can become an opportunity to redefine relationships in a more positive, constructive, and sustainable way – with improved communication and mutual respect.

What kind of future do you want?

Will your ongoing relationship with your parents, siblings or spouse be positive and constructive, or negative and destructive? Will you learn how to listen better and communicate more respectfully, or will you carry the same pain, anger and resentment into the future?

Family mediation offers a better way to resolve family law disputes, since the process itself promotes healing. In family mediation, a neutral third party is brought in by the disputing parties to help define their areas of disagreement – with the goal of eventually drawing up a legally-binding agreement. A mediator does not provide legal advice or advocate for either side.  The mediator facilitates meetings, which may involve only the mediator and the two disputing parties, or may include the attorneys representing the parties as well.

Two core values underlie the mediation process: 1) it is voluntary, and 2) it is confidential.  Beneath these principles is the assumption that the disputing parties are themselves capable, with the assistance of an experienced mediator, of resolving their own disputes – regardless of the complexity and emotional content, and despite the historic commitment to a litigation process that is costly, inefficient, and not qualified to achieve the best outcome.

There are a variety of different approaches that may be taken in family mediation, and thus there is a much greater degree of control, confidentiality, and flexibility for all parties.  Mediation can even be brought into an adversarial process, with the parties engaging in a mediation process at any point in time – even before any legal proceeding is initiated.

Los Angeles mediator and family law attorney Mike White

Are you looking for a positive, constructive outcome to your family conflicts? Do you want to achieve healthy outcomes that are sustainable, fair, and long-term?

Professional mediator and family lawyer Michael H. White is an experienced family law expert with over 30 years of private practice and over 15 years of family mediation experience, with special expertise in divorce mediation, collaborative divorce, and end-of-life issues.  He has also spent years teaching family law mediation at the university level as well.

Call Mike White today at (818) 368-0444 for a free consultation.

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Bankruptcy

Los Angeles Bankruptcy Mediation Services

Many of the U. S. Bankruptcy Courts have wholeheartedly embraced mediation as a way to achieve the peaceful resolution of bankruptcy disputes. Most of my experience has been connected with the Bankruptcy Court which serves the Central District of California, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Ventura Counties. This has been a well-administered program led by Judge Barry Russell whose deep commitment to the settlement process has advanced Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Though Bankruptcy practice is a highly specialized area of law, requiring knowledge of the Federal-based Bankruptcy Law, established in the U. S. Constitution and implemented through the Bankruptcy Code and cases that have been litigated, proper practice before the Bankruptcy Courts also requires an understanding of the interplay between the Code and various state laws. For the practitioner, this is a highly technical practice in which study provides a sound foundation, but practice before the Bankruptcy Courts provides the essential experience to develop competence.

I began practice in the Bankruptcy Courts in or about 1980, a time when a new Bankruptcy Code was implemented. For about 25 years, I represented debtors in consumer bankruptcy cases, creditors bringing actions against debtors, occasionally a debtor in Chapter 11 reorganization and creditors’ committees in reorganization cases. Litigation in the Bankruptcy setting differs from that found in the state courts in terms of its efficiency and focus on solutions or remedies– not always good ones. But there are a number of opportunities for the resolution of disputes between debtors and their creditors, among various creditors, and among committees disputing with debtors and their creditors.

Knowing that most cases must be settled before trial, the commitment of the Bankruptcy Courts in which I have worked to employ mediation concepts to bring resolution to often highly emotional cases has in my view been a wise effort. Bankruptcy is a place where opportunities to open dialogue, identify solutions and seek collaborative resolution for economic failures – whether in business or consumer cases – uniquely benefit from the employment of an experienced mediator.

A recent case demonstrated for me the necessity for employment of knowledgeable and experienced bankruptcy practitioners as mediators, if – and it is an important if – they understand that mediation is more than a mere settlement conference. It is an opportunity to build a relationship. Counsel need to prepare for mediation in the same manner they must prepare for trial. It is the failure of preparation that leads parties to made excessive concessions on the one hand or on the other, to fail to resolve a matter reasonably when the opportunity is ripe. In the recent case of which I speak, not only was there a lack of adequate preparation by counsel, there was a limited understanding of Bankruptcy practice which lead to a failure of settlement at a time when all of the elements to warrant a reasonable settlement were obvious. Fortunately, most cases in which I have been engaged as mediator, counsel and parties are amenable to reasonable solutions.

Some of the qualities that I bring to Bankruptcy Court mediation are:

  • Experience and knowledge of the rules and law applicable to matters
  • Confidence in the ability of parties to fashion reasonable solutions when presented with sufficient information and understanding
  • A deep respect for the capabilities of knowledgeable counsel to provide superior outcomes to clients who rely on them for expertise and advice
  • Patience

Call for a free BK mediation consultation (818) 368-0444.

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Probate Mediation

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

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