What steps do I need to take to get the mediation process started?

2 answers | Last updated: Jul 30, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

Hi. My brother (who is an attorney) was named executor of my parent's estate. Both parents are dead. My mother died a year and a half ago leaving a house. We have met three times to go through the house but there is still alot to do and there is  no deadline for completion of the work. The house has gone down in value in this economy. There also has been no written accounting. You suggested mediation to another questioner. Who does this kind of mediation? What do you think I should do? Thanks.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

It sounds as if your own gut is already suggesting a solution: Try calling in another person to help break the logjam between you and your brother—and mediation is often ideal for this. In mediation, an impartial person, or a panel of them, will work with people having a dispute to work out a suitable solution.

Most locales have community boards that offer free or low-cost mediation to those in need. To find one in your area, do an Internet search of the name of your city or town and “community” and “mediation.” Unless you limit the search this way, you’ll likely get a plethora of names of private mediators—many of them former lawyers—who specialize in everything from divorces to dog bites. If you live in a place without community mediation services, you’ll just have to cull through the possibilities—and focus on those who offer family mediation services as opposed to the divorce varietal.

But even before heading for mediation, you may want to make one last try to get your brother to explain why it’s taking so long to resolve things. There may be some pleasant surprises. You may find, for example, that there are some tasks he will gladly give up so you can help speed things along. Or you may agree that it’s best to hire an outsider to do some necessary repairs or redecorating. Or an honest discussion may reveal the possibility that it’s better to delay the sale given the current economy—and rent the home out instead.

Community Answers

Elderesolutions answered...

Elder mediation is a relatively new profession, combining mediation skills AND eldercare knowledge/experience. You do NOT have to necessarily focus on "family mediators", trying to cull through non-divorce professionals. 

You can do an internet search of "elder mediation' and your town.  Alternatively, ask professional advisors (attorneys, geriatric care managers, financial advisors, professionals at assisted living facilities or other programs) if they know of any elder mediators.

www.Mediate.com has some excellent articles by and about elder and probate mediation.  Our website at www.elderesolutions.com also provides some information that may be useful.