Can Mediation be the Referee in Your Estate Battle?


…In general, the lasting anger and bitterness of litigation doesn't seem to occur when matters are settled by mediation.

Inheritance battles are nothing new. We see several of them make their way into courtrooms far and wide, exposing the family “cat fight” for all to see. It seems that lawyers are the only real winners in the end, after the expensive court costs are all tallied up.

Mediation, however, can be a very practical and affordable forum to settle the squabbles before litigation.

The importance and increasing popularity of mediation was the subject of a recent article in The Wall Street Journal titled “If Heirs Are Fighting, Try Mediation.” The article is in the form of an interview with prominent lawyer and mediator, William Zabel. As Mr. Zabel points out, not every matter needs to be litigated, but must be decided.

Truth be told, the best way to avoid litigation, or even mediation, is to carefully structure your estate plan from the outset. Likely you know the “players” all too well. For example, which of the in-laws are most likely to become the outlaws? Are there any heirs who may be more likely to lose their inheritance to squandering, divorces, lawsuits and bankruptcies?

Planning for your estate can be cumbersome, so you will need to seek knowledgeable legal counsel early in the process. More than likely, your attorney has “seen it all” and can help you prepare for any possible battles ahead.

To talk with an attorney about your estate planning needs, visit

Reference: The Wall Street Journal (March 15, 2013) “If Heirs Are Fighting, Try Mediation