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Mediation in inheritance disputes

The costs of litigation, both financial and emotional, can be significant and this is particularly the case in disputes relating to Wills and inheritance. The approach of the court is to encourage the parties to try to resolve a dispute without going to trial, using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such as mediation.

When a family is involved in litigation regarding a loved one’s Will or the distribution of the estate, there are a number of factors relating to mediation which they can become unnecessarily worried about:

  • They may worry about where the mediation will take place. Often a mediation will take place at the offices of one of the solicitors, but they can take place at neutral venues such as a hotel or conference centre
  • They may worry about coming face to face with someone they do not want to meet.  Mediators and solicitors are used to these particular concerns in inheritance disputes and it is common to arrange for each party to have their own facilities to avoid an awkward and unintended meeting
  • They may worry about the costs of mediation.  The costs of a mediation are generally considered worthwhile and the mediator will strive to find common ground that the parties can agree on, to avoid incurring the further costs of taking a dispute to trial

If a party unreasonably refuses to engage in mediation, the court may make an order to penalise that party when it decides on how the winning party’s costs are to be dealt with, so it is recommended that mediation is considered and any concerns discussed with the solicitor.

If you need advice in relation to a dispute about a Will or an estate and how the dispute might be resolved, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Stephanie Kerr, Disputes & Litigation Solicitor