Article Image
Arbitration to Settle Probate Disputes

Friday, November, 23, 2012


Probate disputes arise over many reasons and taking the issue to court can end up being a lengthy and difficult battle for families to endure.  However, this problem can be solved by adding a simple arbitration clause to your will, enforcing that if disagreements arise, an arbitrator can settle them based on a neutral, non-biased point of view and knowledge of the probate court system. 

Take for instance a family in which there are two children, and one child has been left a greater amount of money in her mother’s will.  If the son, who expected to receive 50% of the inheritance, decides that his sister took unfair advantage of their mother when she was caring for her in the last moments of her life, he would then be tempted to take the matter to court. 

However, a probate arbitrator who has legal expertise and experience in probate law, can listen to both sides and help them settle the dispute through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).  Through arbitration, a form of ADR, the children of the deceased will be able to present their information fairly to a non-biased, third-party arbitrator, and allow him or her to make a decision regarding the outcome of their dispute. 

If the arbitration process is non-binding, then either party may contest the outcome of it by filing a lawsuit after an arbitration agreement has been reached.  However, if the arbitration process is binding, which is suggested if you plan to include an arbitration clause in your will, both parties will have to agree to the arbitrator’s decision and may not then take their case to the courts to be litigated. 

Arbitration as a form of dispute resolution for probate disagreements is an easy, cost-effective and quick way to solve a dispute related to inheritance or property of a deceased relative.  The cost of litigating a case is enormous: with attorney fees and court fees, the amount of the inheritance can be eaten up in simply arguing over who gets it and why.  However, with arbitration, the costs are minimal and each party has equal opportunity to present its side to a neutral arbitrator who will use his or her legal expertise in the area of probate law to make a sound and rational judgment regarding the resolution of the conflict.