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Mediation gains momentum as a solution to estate disputes

Probate court was designed as a legal forum for anyone to approach certain basic forms of justice, such as the appointment of a legal guardian or the disposition of a deceased person's estate. When a dispute arises between parties, probate court can help sort it out and find an equitable solution.

Litigation in any court can be a stressful and destructive process, especially when opponents are members of a family. Mediation, which has been fast becoming a popular alternative to time spent in courtrooms, is also available through Connecticut's probate court system. For a daily fee, an approved mediator may sort out a contentious case in as little as a day.

Both parties must agree to the process by submitting a motion for mediation in probate court. It is possible, but not required, for parties to select their own mediator among those approved by the court. The judge will then be empowered to forward the case or select a mediator to take over.

A mediation may be shorter than a court case, but it may also be considerably more intense. A mediation session is usually scheduled for a full day, and all parties and their attorneys must be available for the entire time. The mediator will then hear all sides of the issue and attempt to make a successful deal to which all parties can agree.

Mediation as an alternative to probate estate litigation can save time and money. As with probate litigation, all parties are entitled to legal representation, which may increase the chances of a fair and acceptable deal.

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