In an ideal world, a thoughtfully constructed will would ensure an individual’s last wishes were irrefutable and easily executed. However, the reality is that family members often end up in a dispute after a loved one passes away regardless of the documentation that was carefully crafted beforehand. After the death of a family member, confusion and conflict is intensified by the heightened emotions associated with grief. This creates unique challenges when dealing with will disputes.
Grief can impact normal behaviors. The loss of a loved one can have a major impact on a person’s actions and ability to reason. While there are stages of grief that most will go through, everyone mourns in their own way and in their own time. It can be hard to predict behavior and remain consistent throughout the process. Therefore, will disputes during times of grief can be especially difficult to resolve.
People often associate the value of their relationship with what they receive in the will. It is quite common for those who were left out of the will or received less to feel as though they were valued less by the deceased. Without having the now deceased family member to explain his or her decisions, the aggrieved survivor will often blame the other beneficiaries out of frustration.
Unresolved disputes from the past resurface. When dealing with will disputes, the involved parties often carry the baggage of a long history together. Old grievances and suppressed emotions can boil over and hijack legal discussions, making it more challenging to come to a settlement.
Imbalances in status can leave some people behind. Whether it stems from age, family dynamic, income, or education, most families have dominant members and submissive ones. This becomes even more evident when dealing with probate litigation and will disputes, as the powerful voices become louder and the delicate ones become quieter.
Is Will Dispute Mediation or Litigation the Best Path for You?
Not all legal disputes end up in the courtroom. For many families, alternative dispute resolution options, such as mediation, are best for all involved. With a professional mediator guiding the discussions, each individual can better navigate the issues being disputed without getting stuck in the pitfalls of grief as discussed above.
At Gaslowitz Frankel, our trained professional mediators facilitate negotiations and help to move the parties to a mutually agreed-upon settlement. We believe alternative dispute resolution is often the best opportunity to promote settlement and support a family’s need to move beyond the conflict to find healing. For trusted guidance in dealing with this important and sensitive issue, consult with the attorneys at Gaslowitz Frankel.