Real property is often among the most valuable assets that people own. As they get older, many people want to pass on their real estate holdings to their family members and loved ones. For a number of different reasons, splitting up property can be challenging. Not only is property more difficult to divide, but people may have a deep emotional connection to it.
Unfortunately, in some cases, disputes arise over an elderly person’s property. Dealing with conflict over property can be deeply distressing. The good news is that these disputes do not have to be damaging or costly. Private mediation sessions can help to resolve family property disputes in an effective and efficient manner.
What is Private Mediation and How Does it Work?
As described by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that allows people to resolve their issues without going to court. With private mediation, the parties to the dispute will have an opportunity to meet with a trained mediator who will focus on helping them work towards a mutually beneficial agreement.
Mediators are neutral. They do not have the power to make a final decision nor do they have the power to enforce a final decision. Instead, the mediator’s role in the process is to help facilitate a written agreement between the parties. As the private mediation process is fully confidential, parties to a family property dispute will have a chance to talk about their issues in a structured, non-public setting.
Know the Benefits of Mediation
While private mediation is not the right approach for every legal dispute, it offers significant benefits—especially if the parties want to save money and find a mutually agreeable solution. Here are three primary benefits of using mediation for intra-family property disputes:
- Preserves Relationships: When an elderly person wants to leave property to family members, it is an important, valuable gift. It should not be something that causes long-term damage to familial relationships. As mediation is focused on mutual interests and cooperative problem solving, it helps the parties come to solutions that are not only effective, but that help to spare hurt feelings.
- Flexible Process: Another key benefit of mediation is that the process is fundamentally flexible. The parties retain considerable control over how things will be handled. You will have an opportunity to find solutions that are customized to suit your specific needs. Flexibility can be especially valuable in property dispute cases. There are many options on the table—from sales to partitions of the property.
- Cost Effective: There is no getting around the fact that litigation is expensive. It is a time-consuming process that has the potential to drag on. In the worst case scenario, litigating a property dispute may cause financial harm to both parties. In contrast, private mediation can produce real cost savings.
As valuable as mediation can be for resolved elderly property disputes, every case carries its own unique set of facts and challenges. Another key advantage of mediation is that it is non-binding. The American Bar Association (ABA) notes that mediation is a fully voluntary process and either party can withdraw from the process at any time.
Call Our Southern California Private Mediation Attorneys for Immediate Help
At Wagner Zemming Christensen LLP, we have extensive experience conducting private mediations. If you have questions about mediating an elderly property dispute, our legal team is here to help. For a free, completely confidential initial consultation, please contact us now. From our law office in Riverside, we offer mediation services throughout the region, including in Ontario, San Bernardino, Jurupa Valley, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and Pomona.