How Mediation Can Help an Elder

February 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Elders

Mediation, a form of out-of-court dispute resolution, is very much in the news these days.

Everyone’s heard about divorce mediation, and maybe you have a friend or family member who has used it for his or her divorce.  A new field of mediation, marital mediation, is now emerging.  In marital mediation, a mediator helps a couple who wants to stay married resolve their conflicts.  It is an alternative to marital counseling, and sometimes it works when marital counseling does not.

In mediation, a neutral person (often a lawyer, sometimes another professional) leads the disputing parties through decision-making by facilitating their discussions.  A very important part of mediation is to help people actually express their needs, rather than their positions.  Often, they find out that their needs are compatible, and they were just taking adverse positions, which resulted in an apparent (but not a real) conflict.

In Massachusetts, there is a 200-plus member organization of family mediators called the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediationwww.mcfm.org.  There is a trove of useful information on their website describing the different kinds of mediation available.  Some of these types might be of special interest to elders:  michael and ricky

Are you having difficulty discussing your estate plan with your grown children?  A neutral mediator can lead that discussion and help you and your children come to clarity.

Are you and your children having conflict over your plans for the future?  A mediator is trained to level the playing field, so that your feelings and aims will be heard by your children.

Is there a family business that you would like to transfer to the next generation but it is very complicated, and you wish to achieve your goals?  Mediators can help lead that discussion and get and help you evaluate the professional help that might be needed in putting the plan into effect.

Are you having a dispute with someone where you reside?  Use of a neutral mediator to lead that discussion might be very helpful.

Are you having marital problems?  Marital mediation is a very useful and productive way to address disputes, especially in “mature” (long) marriages.

Are you getting married and feel you need to have a prenuptial agreement?  Formulating a prenuptial agreement with your intended spouse through mediation is a wonderful way to do this.

Do you want to explore having a postnuptial agreement?  These agreements made between you and your spouse after your marriage to try to “fix” something that is of concern to both of you.  This can be handled very well in mediation sessions.

Do you or someone you know have a dispute regarding the probate of an estate?  Family conflict can sometimes be addressed and eliminated (or lessened) in mediation.

All these types of issues can respond quite well to the mediation process.  So if you have an issue or conflict that is not going away, you might want to give mediation a try.

© 2011 Laurie Israel.

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One Response to “How Mediation Can Help an Elder”
  1. Estate Planning and Elder LawNo Gravatar says:

    Great post Laurie. I can definately see how the use of a mediator would benefit many areas of estate planning and elder law. It can be frustrating seeing families struggle with important life decisions. Nice blog.