Focus of Probate and Trust Mediation

Focus of Probate and Trust Mediation

As I begin my practice in probate and trust mediation, some of the factors I intend to emphasize are as follows:

Because of my 35 years of experience in probate and trust administration and the disputes that can arise in them, I can furnish input on the substance of the issues that may assist the parties in resolving their dispute.  In particular, I may suggest ways to resolve the issues between the parties that neither the parties nor their counsel may have thought of.

I love people. I will dedicate myself to closely listening to people and coming to understand what their concerns are and in particular what their feelings are.

I will dedicate myself also to impartiality.  I will maintain an unbiased view of the parties.

I will work to understand and resolve the competing needs and interests of the parties.  I will work to assist the parties to communicate their respective needs and interests to each other.  I will identify ways the parties can all accept to meet those needs and solve their problems. I will assist them in coming to an exchange of benefits that will satisfy their sense of fairness and redefine their relationship so that it is acceptable to all parties.  I will dedicate myself to respecting the concerns of all parties and assist them in resolving their issues in a way that will satisfy the parties to the greatest extent possible.

My approach to mediation will be influenced by who I am.

–    I care about people.  No party will be unattractive or viewed as difficult.  My goal will be to do what I can to assist the parties in resolving their issues, satisfying their interests, and getting peace in their lives.

–    I will be impartial.  I will focus on ways to assist the parties to decide for themselves.  I will try my best to not favor any party.  I will try hard to not form an opinion on how I think the dispute should be resolved.  The feelings of the parties will be the only thing that is important.  I will advocate for a fair process.

–    I am dedicated to trustworthiness and credibility.  I will not lie to a party.  The only thing I can control in my life is my integrity.

–    I will ask the attorneys for the parties for input on the procedures (in mediation lingo, the “process”) of the mediation.  I will work with them to come up with the order of things that will be acceptable to all sides.

–    I will enhance the negotiation process; I will correct perceptions, reduce unreasonable fears, and improve communication so the parties can reasonably discuss the issues.

–    I likely have dealt with the issues in the mediation before in my practice.  In my years of practice, I have seen it all.  I may very well help the parties in expanding their settlement options.  I will help them craft a settlement that can be implemented and not leave any issue unresolved that should be resolved  I will help them think it through and come up with a settlement that will be enforceable and stand the test of time.

–    I have been appearing in probate court for over 35 years, but I have done very little probate and trust litigation myself.  Hence, I have no ill will toward any attorney for any litigant.  In addition, I am a very forgiving person.  The few attorneys who have done things that may have upset me in the past are forgiven.  “Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly.” [from a church hymn.]

–    I am creative.  I will “think outside the box” to come up with procedures in the mediation that will assist the parties in coming to a meeting of the minds.

In sum, if parties hire my services for a mediation, I will care about the parties and their concerns.  When appropriate, I will use my experience in the law to suggest creative settlement ideas the parties may not have considered.  I will be patient and dedicated in trying to assist the parties in settling their issues in a way that will be long lasting.