Focus of Probate and Trust MediationKevin G. Staker
Focus of Probate and Trust Mediation by Kevin Staker
Some of the factors I emphasize in my practice in probate and trust mediation are as follows:
I have over 35 years of experience in probate and trust administration and the disputes that can arise in them. Therfore, 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 dedicate myself to closely listening to people and coming to understand what their concerns are and in particular what their feelings are. One of my favorite quotes is “in the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye cannot see.”
I dedicate myself also to impartiality. I will maintain an unbiased view of the parties.
I work to understand and resolve the competing needs and interests of the parties. I work to assist the parties to communicate their respective needs and interests to each other. I identify items resolving issues the parties can all accept to meet those needs and solve their problems. I 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 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 is influenced by who I am.
– I care about people. No party is unattractive or viewed as difficult. My goal is to do what I can to assist the parties in resolving their issues, satisfying their interests, and getting peace in their lives.
– I am impartial. I focus on ways to assist the parties to decide for themselves. I try my best to not favor any party. I try hard to not form an opinion on how I think the dispute should be resolved. The feelings of the parties is the only thing that is important. I 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.