By Melanie Kirk
When someone has died and the content of his or her Will comes to light, it can feel to those who are grieving like a statement of the deceased's love and affection for them. When a child, sibling, spouse or other family member is excluded from a Will, any reasoning the testator may have had for that decision is all too often lost, which can leave the disappointed beneficiary feeling resentful.
When a person becomes aware that they have been excluded from, or left less than they might have expected in a Will, their feelings of inadequacy or of being unloved can appear to others to be attributable to greed. People feel guilty that they are even thinking about contesting the Will of a deceased loved one, but it is not greedy to want to feel equal to your siblings, or loved by your late spouse; nor is it unreasonable to want to investigate any suspicious circumstances surrounding the preparation and execution of a Will which seems irrational or unfair.
At TWM Solicitors we are passionate advocates of mediation in order to settle the family disputes which can arise in these circumstances. We find that mediation can help to uphold relationships that would have broken down had the case gone to court. Mediation helps maintain the estate's assets better than engaging in emotional and financially costly litigation which can cause further friction amongst beneficiaries in an already fraught situation. Mediation can also, unlike protracted litigation, stop the matter being dragged out for longer than necessary, enabling family members to benefit more quickly from certainty and closure.
Conversely, mediation can also assist when family relations have broken down to the point where members of the family really do not want to see one another any more. At mediation, parties generally sit in their own private rooms with their legal teams and the mediator 'commutes' between them. This means that the parties never actually meet at the mediation, and in turn ensures that there is no need to endure the uncomfortable 'evil eyes' that are so often seen in the court room.
TWM Solicitors' Contentious Trusts and Probate team have promoted many successful mediations, with the settlements benefiting both parties.
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