Estate and Trust Mediation

Working to Favorably Resolve Estate and Trust Matters in California

When a legal dispute arises involving a will or a trust, many parties are ready to march into a courtroom to battle it out at trial. While estate-related trials do take place in California civil and probate courts, not every dispute requires a trial to achieve a favorable resolution. Mediation is one method of alternative dispute resolution that can resolve an estate dispute without the need for the entire litigation process.

At Hackard Law, we are first and foremost dedicated to protecting the best interests and rights of our clients. If this means mediating for a settlement, we can represent you throughout mediation proceedings to ensure a fair and just agreement. If it means litigating the matter, our attorneys are experienced in the courtroom and ready to fight your claims at trial. If you are facing any type of will, trust, or probate dispute, please contact our office to discuss your options today.

Why Mediation?

Mediation can result in many benefits for those facing trust and estate disputes, including:

● Efficiency, as the process is generally shorter and less costly than litigation

● Confidentiality, which can prove important with high-profile or high-worth estates

● Flexible scheduling

● Non-adversarial environments

● Resolutions can benefit both parties instead of one side "winning" and one side "losing"

After losing a loved one, a neutral environment that facilitates cooperation and takes less time can emotionally and financially benefit everyone involved. In addition, estate disputes are often between family members or other close relations. Even though you disagree on certain legal issues, you may want to preserve those relationships and may want a non-adversarial proceeding instead of battling it out in a courtroom.

Mediation involves a third-party mediator who favors neither party and facilitates open discussion of key issues of the dispute. Through such discussion often comes cooperation, which can lead to mutually favorable settlements.

Mediation does not take place in a formal court but often in a conference room at a law firm or another more comfortable location. Mediation does not involve the strict rules and procedures of litigation or trial, so the parties can discuss and consider a lot more than in court. For this reason, mediation can help many of our clients.

Common Estate Issues That We Mediate

Many different types of disputes involving trusts, wills, or probate can reach resolution through mediation. Some common estate-related disputes that we handle include:

● Allegations of elder abuse, financial abuse, or undue influence

● Claims of mismanagement by successor trustees

● Breach of duty by a fiduciary

● Interpretation of trust terms

● Interpretation of a will

● Will or trust contests based on undue influence

● Will or trust contests based on law of testamentary capacity

● Removing or replacing a trustee or personal representative

● Discovery and recovery of hidden assets

● Fraudulent transfer of property

● Partition of real estate

Our attorneys will always evaluate whether mediation may present a beneficial option for your specific matter.

Protecting Your Rights During Mediation

Mediation does not require the parties to retain legal representation-in fact, no legal matter does. However, as with litigation, you will serve your best interests with the guidance and advice of a professional who fully understands your rights under California trust and estate laws.

Estate-related mediation often takes place during an already emotionally charged time. The personal issues can involve property all parties involved find important to them. If the parties are close family members, they may have inside information on one another they can use as leverage. Without an objective adviser by your side, it can prove all too easy to succumb to the emotional pressures and agree to an inadequate settlement to simply end the process.

Often, when parties in mediation hire legal counsel, the other parties are less likely to engage in emotional manipulation. An attorney can identify an insufficient proposed settlement and allow you to better stand up for the resolution you deserve. Our attorneys know California estate laws inside and out and can inform and remind you-and the other party-of your rights under the law. We have represented many clients in mediation to a successful resolution, allowing them to move forward and avoid a lengthy and often stressful litigation process. Mediation can play an important role in many probate, trust, and will disputes.

Identifying When Litigation Is Necessary

While mediation can prove more cost-effective and efficient than litigation, the process is only beneficial if it helps you reach a favorable agreement. Many parties go through the mediation process and still cannot reach a satisfactory resolution. In these situations, it is worth it to stop mediation proceedings and proceed through the litigation process.

While our team of attorneys is highly skilled at reaching successful resolutions via mediation, we also have extensive courtroom experience and regularly handle dynamic and complex estate matters at trial. Therefore, we will never try to convince you to accept a mediation settlement when it is not in your best interests. Instead, we will not hesitate to initiate the litigation process and see your case through to its most favorable resolution.

Contact Our Santa Clara and Los Angeles Trust and Estate Mediation Lawyers

If you have a will contest, breach of fiduciary claim, or another complicated estate or probate matter, you need legal representation you can trust. You want an attorney who will honestly present your options and remain dedicated to obtaining the best results possible for you. At Hackard Law, we focus on estate litigation because we enjoy the opportunity to represent clients in these difficult matters.

Probate and trust administration should go smoothly-and when they do not, you can suffer financial harm. These complex matters often have a lot at stake, and you need a law firm that knows how to protect your rights under California law. Please call Hackard Law at (213) 357-5200 in Los Angeles and (916) 313-3030 in Santa Clara, or contact us online today for more information.