Have you ever had a disagreement within your family? Everyone has. As things change, such as family members aging, there are many decisions to be made: healthcare, finances, guardianship, power of attorney, estates, wills…and so much more! These decisions may be challenging to make given that they typically involve many family members who each have their own opinion on what is “best” and on top of it all, there are decades of emotions that color our perspective. The use of mediation for these conversations is growing.
Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral third party sits down with all the people involved (including the senior) to discuss the issues at hand and guide them through an informal process that results in a mutually acceptable agreement. In addition to saving time and money, mediation is empowering as it allows the senior and their family to choose solutions that work for their family.
While mediation is considered an alternative dispute resolution method, it easily works with the legal system. Attorneys may, and often do, participate in the mediation process. In 2014 the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania released the “Report and Recommendations of the Elder Law Task Force of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.” A part of the 130 recommendations includes mediation as a part of the proceedings of Pennsylvania’s Orphans’ Courts.
You and your family may already have started the discussion and may have gotten into a conflict! Are you now at an impasse? You may want to plan ahead and try to avoid any hard feelings by making decisions early. No matter where you are in the process, mediation can help!
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Mila Pilz. Ms. Pilz is the Executive Director, Program Operations of Advoz Mediation and Restorative Practices.