Probate Mediators for Estate and Other Family Disputes
The Probate Process
Probate refers to cases which are heard in the probate court. These types of cases include deciphering wills, issues related to dividing trusts and estates, guardianships and involuntary commitment proceedings, adoptions, and partition of real estate. We work with families early in the process as well as once litigation has been filed. Based in Concord, New Hampshire, we serve clients in New Hampshire and Vermont (including the Upper Valley) and across New England.
Disputes Concerning Asset Distribution After Death
The death of a loved one is emotionally difficult. The process of recovering from this loss can be compounded when there are serious issues concerning the distribution of the loved one’s estate, both when the loved one had a will (or a will and a trust) or when the loved one died without a will.
Disputes Involving Wills and Trust Interpretation, or When There is No Will
For families where there has been a death, we can assist with deciding how to divide the assets left. These discussions can take place where the deceased left a will and parties don’t agree on how to interpret the will, or where the deceased did not leave a will at all.
When there is no will, under state intestacy laws all members of equal relationship to the decedent are entitled to an equal share of the estate. This means that all of the children of a deceased parent with no surviving spouse are entitled to the same monetary value.
Significant disputes can arise for a number of matters. Jewelry and other personal items may have a much higher sentimental value than monetary value. Real estate, such as a house, cannot be subdivided. Rather than litigating claims and continuing to fight among family, we help family members to reach a settlement concerning estate distribution.
We also work with families before a death occurs to talk together about how to divide assets before the will is drafted. For instance, sometimes a parent has one vision of how he or she will divide assets, but the children and grandchildren would prefer some other solution. A facilitated discussion between family members before a will is drafted can save expenses, time, and heartache later on.
Where a family contemplates a guardianship for a family member who can’t care for himself, we can assist with the planning and the specific decisions about executing that plan. Our conversations range from whether a guardian should be appointed, to who should be the guardian, to what responsibilities the guardian will have, and whether and how the guardian will be compensated. We recognize that family members may have very different ideas, moral and religious beliefs, and financial abilities. We consider all of these factors as part of the conversations.
In cases of open adoption, we can work with the birth parents, the adoptive parents, other family members, and the State to form a long-term agreement about on-going contact and relationships between the child and others.