Family: Wills & Probate
Process Features and Outcome Requirements
What? You have a dispute with other family members over the will of a deceased relative. Some of problems may be financial, some may be relationship-based because, after all, this is a family matter!
Why? You need to get things resolved, with finality, because the financial and emotional trauma, and having to deal with lawyers over family stuff, is making everybody truly miserable. How can a fight over someone else’s stuff create so much misery and threaten to blow the whole family apart?
How? The process needs to be: confidential, empathic, sensitive, objective and authoritative, mainly because you need to address family, relationship and material issues, if you’re to have any family left after you come out on the other side.
The process needs to feel fair to everyone from the outset; it needs to be time and cost effective - to avoid wasting money in fight costs; and it must be final - you only want to go through this once.
Depending on the personalities involved, try to reach your own agreement first (it could be something other than what the will originally suggested). If not, you may need a respected neutral to make decisions for you, because you’re never going to reach agreement by yourselves
The process is highly inclusive, so it can help to repair and strengthen family relationships, as it resolves the issues in dispute. SODR will provide a final outcome.
SODR can move from being facilitative to decisional, so it can address both family relationship issues and material issues, with authority, when the dispute resolver has experience dealing with both family and legal problems.
Other decisional processes may achieve final and binding outcomes efficiently, but they tend to focus on the financial aspects of the dispute, and are therefore much less cathartic for the family.