The virtual way that families can settle Will disputes

Certainty - The National Will RegisterBy Legal Futures’ Associates Certainty National Will Register

A rise in the use of virtual mediation during lockdown has seen another avenue open-up for families to settle their disputes over the Wills and estates left by loved ones.

And with the number of contentious probate cases growing, legal specialist Katherine Marshall, Solicitor at Wilkin Chapman has advised that mediation should be fully explored before families ended up in the courtroom.

As a member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), Katherine has a growing knowledge of this area of law, having successfully completed three years’ further study to gain her membership. Katherine is also a listed specialist in the Certainty Contentious Probate Hub & Area.

She explained how Covid-19 restrictions had seen more people using virtual mediation. In many situations it worked well with clients, lawyers and the professional mediator using online ‘break-out’ rooms to ensure the process offered privacy and reflection time, she said.

“As with most things, there are advantages and disadvantages. By someone being in their own home they may be a little more relaxed, however for others it can be daunting,” said Katherine, a member of the Dispute Resolution team at Wilkin Chapman Solicitors.

“I had a client who was in her 80s and she sensibly had a younger relative with her during the mediation – he was in her bubble and stayed with her in the room for emotional support. For this lady, the environment worked well for her. We found a settlement without the need for her to travel to a solicitor’s office for what could have been a nine or 10-hour day.”

Whether virtual or physical, Katherine emphasised how mediation was the best route for those disagreeing over a Will or how an estate should be handled, and it was always how she sought to resolve cases. Court, she explained, was time-consuming and expensive for either one or both parties involved – as well as being emotionally draining.

“Mediation can be as flexible as it needs to be and that is important. Cases will often involve relatives in dispute with each other and both sides can easily become entrenched in legal argument, forgetting they are family. Mediation can offer a valuable way out of this situation with as much time taken as needed,” she said.

To speak with an experienced contentious probate specialist in your area, visit the Certainty Contentious Probate Hub & Area on The National Will Register:

You can contact Katherine Marshall directly on 01522 515015.


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