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Our Oakland Probate Litigation Lawyers Mediate Probate Disputes Outside Of Court

Probate conflicts do not need to result in court battles and damaged relationships between family members. If you are dealing with a legal conflict involving another beneficiary, a fiduciary or anyone involved in the probate process, litigation in the probate court is not the only solution. In many cases, individuals can preserve relationships and reach compromises through alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Our Oakland probate litigation lawyers often help people resolve their disputes through California probate mediation.

What is Mediation for Probate Disputes?

Mediation allows two or more parties to work through a legal conflict outside of the courtroom. In mediation, parties can choose to have their own attorney present with them. A neutral mediator will navigate the dispute through negotiation. The mediator seeks to find points of agreement in a setting that is much less formal than a courtroom. Cases in mediation also are confidential to encourage candor. This allows both parties to discuss their grievances without the fear of their conflicts becoming public or having their discussions used against them in a court of law later.

Mediation allows individuals to lessen attorney fees, move the process quicker and can help to mend straining familial relationships. Often, probate mediation will allow the parties involved to reach compromises that benefit everyone. Individuals involved in disputes often find that mediators bring a fresh perspective to the issue. Furthermore, many find unique solutions to their problems that you could not obtain through litigation.

Can Mediation Resolve My Probate Issue?

For some, mediation can solve their problems in a much more favorable way than if the case went to probate court. If you are involved in a probate dispute and want to preserve relationships, potentially lessen legal costs and explore alternative resolutions to your conflict, probate mediation may be right for you.

Even if you believe the other party is not willing to cooperate or that there is no way to a amicably resolve the dispute, mediation often results in favorable negotiated settlements. Additionally, even if you cannot completely settle all disputes in mediation, it can narrow the disputed issues to make litigation more cost-effective. In most cases, there is no downside to attempting mediation before litigation.

Where Can I Find a Probate Mediator in Northern California?

Our probate litigation attorneys know that many people want to avoid probate court. We work with many clients in mediation. Our law firm provides mediation and probate litigation services for those in Oakland, Berkeley and other areas in Northern California. Please call our law office to find out how we can assist you.

FAQ Learn More About Probate Litigation

  • Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s last will and testament or according to intestate law. Certain trusts only go into effect upon the death of the testator, and may therefore be part of a probate administration. California probate courts oversee probate administration and probate litigation.

  • Probate litigation is the term for a lawsuit when a party, such as an heir, beneficiary, creditor, third party or omitted spouse contests a will. Probate litigation also includes charges against fiduciaries of trusts or estates, or creditors’ claims against an estate.

  • There are several different reasons for contesting a will. For example, claims of undue influence and lack of capacity are common causes for probate litigation. Some individuals may argue that the will is defective, or that the estate trustee is breaching a fiduciary duty. If you are an omitted spouse or if your spouse leaves you less than required by California law, you may have a claim against the estate as part of your spousal rights.

  • A fiduciary duty is the obligation to act honestly, fairly and in good faith when handling the deceased person’s estate. There are multiple fiduciary duties that executors, administrators and trustees are legally required to follow, including keeping proper accountings of all investments, as well as money going in and out of the trust or estate. Violation of this duty or poor performance in administrating the estate may result in legal action by the estate’s beneficiaries.

  • Just as in all types of civil litigation, the law allows you to represent yourself in a probate proceeding. However, we strongly advise having a seasoned probate litigation lawyer handle your case to ensure that California probate law upholds your best interests.
  • Even in death, a person is liable for their debts. For example, creditors may bring claims against a person’s estate after their death to receive payment.

  • A codicil is a document that makes small changes to the terms of a last will and testament. An individual may use codicils when they want to amend their last wishes without having to create an entirely new will. A codicil will only be legally valid and enforceable if executed in the same manner as a will. Codicils are particularly useful upon remarriage, additional children born, or new property acquired by an estate.

  • If a person dies without a will, then California intestacy laws will dictate the division of their estates to the heirs at law. These laws will then distribute property and assets depending on the marital status, number of children and surviving relatives of the deceased individual.