The Texas probate courts help thousands of families administer the estate of a deceased loved one every year. Many families quickly and smoothly go through this process, either due to careful planning on the part of the deceased or because the family agrees with the terms outlined in the estate plan or last will.

However, conflicts often arise during the administration of an estate. Perhaps the deceased party disinherited a family member who wants to fight back. Maybe there are concerns that a caregiver influenced the deceased and convinced them to change the terms of their last will for personal benefit. Maybe the last will is vague and deals primarily with how to split the assets, leaving many family members to claim specific assets.

Regardless of what leads to the conflict, your family may need a way to resolve these disputes without going to court. Mediation can be a form of alternative dispute resolution that helps families dealing with disagreements about an estate.

How mediation works for a probate situation

Mediation is a way for people to create their own solutions to a disagreement that might otherwise lead to litigation. Mediation usually involves hiring a neutral third party to serve as the mediator. Each party with a vested interest in the mediation process will also need their own legal representation.

Typically, mediation is fastest and most effective if everyone can meet together, but in situations with extremely high conflict and negative emotions, a mediator can serve as an intermediary between individuals who don’t negotiate face to face. Each party will outline to the mediator what they hope for in the outcome of the process, and the mediator will then help them find compromises that can allow everyone to feel satisfied with the outcome.

Once everyone reaches an agreement, the mediator and attorneys will commit the terms to writing, have everyone sign and then present that document to the courts for approval or use those terms to guide the ongoing estate administration process.

Mediation can help your family learn to work together again

Disputes over an estate can tear a family apart and leave an entire generation alienated from one another. The loved one who left behind assets would surely not want their estate to be a source of strife and discord among their family.

Mediation helps everyone get on the same page and can be a starting point for healthy relationships after the conflict related to the estate dies down. Unlike litigation, which may reinforce existing divisions in the family and may leave people feeling better afterward, mediation can be a way for your family to not only resolve the issue but move past it.