Nothing tears a family apart as effectively and decisively as an inheritance dispute. When a will is contested it often divides families into opposing sides and stirs up resentments and other negative emotions that can have a lasting and even permanent effect on existing relationships.
These disputes are rarely really about money. Often there are emotional aspects to the dispute that reach back in time to problems that were never dealt with. It may be as simple as an old keepsake someone assumed would become theirs, but is being given to someone else. Sometimes it has to do with one sibling or other relative feeling they invested more time and emotional energy into a relative’s final years than their inheritance seems to honor. Whatever the root causes, the best strategy for resolving these disputes is often family mediation.
Emotions Not Finances
The fact that most inheritance disputes are only superficially about money or the value of specific assets named in a will are why family mediation is often the ideal way to resolve these conflicts. Mediation gives each family member the chance to express their feelings and have those feelings validated and explored. This alone is often sufficient to turn a conflict into a negotiation and avoid messy lawsuits.
Even if resentments prove too powerful for simple expression, a trained and experienced mediator can help families find common ground by identifying the true causes of disputes and offer alternative arrangements that can keep the dispute out of the courts.
This is crucial, because court battles over an inheritance are expensive and quickly reduce the amount of the inheritance through court and attorney fees. Seeking mediation can resolve the conflict inexpensively so the bequests can be enjoyed rather than fought over.