In 2016, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania adopted a new Court Rule, namely Rule 1.6 in Orphans Court (Mediation by Agreement, Local Rule, or Court Order in reference to Wills and Estates). This Rule essentially states that mediation shall be utilized in resolving disputes arising from wills, absence of wills or probate and states. Other states had already adopted the mediation model, many for quite some time. In Pennylvania, the confidentiality of mediation is provided by statute – 42 Pa.C.S. § 5949.

Mediation is ideally suited for this field, because the cases are often so emotionally charged and also, because there is often much hearsay, verbal promises and miscommunication and misconceptions that are generally easier to unravel in mediation. The mediation process also allows for all parties to be involved and heard, whether they are direct or indirect parties in an estate case. This process naturally also cuts down on the time needed, and therefore on the cost, to come to a resolution and a fair, amicable settlement.

This leads to the next part in this topic, estate and succession planning while all parties are still alive and well.

Just because children are born into a family that owns and operates businesses or has real estate holdings, doesn’t mean that all children should automatically inherit these assets or that they are expected to take over the management of a particular business. There are a multitude of factors that should be considered and discussed to ultimately arrive at a solution that is not only fair and equitable but that also ensures the prosperity and legacy for the foreseeable future. Again, mediation is best suited for addressing overt and underlying issues and resolving conflicts that might exist, including white elephants in the room.

Using mediation in this process can often even resolve lingering issues in the present, which might be stifling prosperity or causing a hostile family atmosphere.

As a long-time business consultant with an MBA and as a trained mediator, the Baroness can also assist her clients with solutions to difficult financial situations.

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