California Probate Mediation: What Is It? Should You Participate?

Disagreements during the California probate process

If there is a disagreement during the California probate process, what happens? Is there a trial? Does the judge make a decision to settle the issue? There’s no doubt that disputes over an estate going through the probate process can be very stressful and time consuming. Often, it is recommended that the parties go through the California probate mediation process to settle their differences.

Related: Most Common Reasons Someone Will Contest a Will in California

What Is California Probate Mediation?

California probate mediation is a process used by parties who are fighting over something related to an estate. The parties meet with a mediator outside of a courtroom setting to discuss the possibility of settling their differences. Mediation is non-binding. If the parties don’t like the results of the process, they still have the right to litigate.

California probate mediation has some excellent benefits. It is less expensive than probate litigation. Probate litigation can be seen as a last resort by the involved parties if they’re unable to settle their disagreement. The involved parties go into mediation with the general idea of settling their dispute. It is often less adversarial in nature than litigation. Probate is hard enough on families. Since the parties are on the same basic page about hopefully finding a resolution, the chance of success and creating a win / win situation improve. With litigation, there’s simply no guarantee for anyone.

Related: 5 Ways to Simplify the Probate Process in California

What Happens During California Probate Mediation?

During California probate mediation, the parties will meet with a third party who is a mediator. It is this person’s job to help the parties communicate and to help reach a settlement. The mediator does not issue a decision. The parties have the right to have their lawyer attend with them.

Should You Participate in the Mediation Process?

Mediation is a good alternative to litigation. If no decision can be reached, you can move forward to explore your other legal options. If there is a settlement that is tentatively reached, it must first be approved by the judge. If your dispute involves an estate, a trust, a conservatorship, or a guardianship, you might find that the California mediation process is an attractive and beneficial option.

Yet, not everyone is always so inclined to participate. Understand that mediation isn’t something that can be forced. Additionally, mediation isn’t necessarily the best option if there is a history of abuse or coercion between the parties.

When Can California Probate Mediation Start?

The mediation process can start any time during the probate process. It may be best to address any problem sooner rather than later. However, you have the right to talk with a lawyer to learn more about what’s happening and about your options.

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