Collaborative Trust & Estates is an alternative dispute resolution model meant to keep families out of court and to support them in creating their own solutions with a non-biased and interdisciplinary professional team. This movement was birthed out of the Collaborative Divorce model that has successfully aided couples in amicable divorces and co-parenting plans for the past 25 years. Benefits include better listening and understanding, creating durable agreements, empowering the parties to find their own solutions, healing family relationships, and lowered costs. This model is in stark contrast to the adversarial court-based model which tends to further isolate parties and exacerbate the conflict. This traditional adversarial model provides top-down solutions that often fail to address family members’ real concerns, the issues that fuel the conflict.

Collaborative Practice can be effectively utilized in Trust & Estates matters including:

  • Contests over a will or estate
  • Guardianship and conservatorship disputes
  • Financial elder abuse
  • Disputes between beneficiaries and/or trustees

The Collaborative Team

A team is composed of some or all of the following professionals who are all trained in mediation and in the Collaborative Model of resolving disputes outside of court:

Professional Role
A licensed lawyer for each “interest” Who advocate on behalf of the interest they represent; provide legal information
A licensed mental health professional Communication Skills Specialist who facilitates the family’s dialogue and difficult conversations
A credentialed financial professional Financial Specialist who educates the family to make informed decisions
A child specialist A child psychologist who gets in the world of the child and communicates the child’s needs and desires
An elder specialist A geriatric care manager or other qualified professional who manages the unique needs of the elder involved in the family dispute

Pre-Mortem (before someone passes away)

Collaborative professionals work as a team to assist families in setting up estate plans that will provide smooth transitions of wealth and clear conversations around healthcare wishes with the next generation.

  • The opportunity is to prevent or minimize divisive issues before they become a full-blown family conflict, to share and discover family values, to create a shared family vision, and to create an action plan to implement the family values and vision in future generations.

Post-Mortem (after someone passes away)

Collaborative professionals work as a team to assist families in resolving inheritance disputes and disagreements about caring for an elder parent outside of court in a supportive and communicative environment.

  • The opportunity is to resolve an inheritance dispute by creating a durable family agreement outside of court. A case can be removed from court midway through the process if litigation has already begun.

How Do I Begin the Collaborative Trust & Estates Process?

If you want to use this model with your family, please contact one of our Professionals.