Dealing with estate conflicts: Prevention & alternative dispute resolution


Dealing with estate conflicts

Prevention and alternative dispute resolution

Conflict is a normal part of life. It should not surprise us then, that conflict may be a normal part of the end of our lives. When we die, we leave our family and friends to deal with a state of affairs that is a mix of emotions, personal relationships, and money. Perhaps, there is no situation that is more set up for conflict than death itself. 

While conflict may arise at your death, you can do many things before your death to decrease that level of conflict. Your death should not be the cause of irreparable harm to family and personal relationships. And your wealth should not be needlessly spent on resolving conflicts through the courts or otherwise.


The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is just as true in your estate planning as it is in everyday life. To start some preventative planning, there are certain questions to consider about the executor you’ve appointed and what you’ve outlined in your estate plan and Will.

Alternative dispute resolution

You should also consider ways to resolve estate disputes without going to court. Today, there is a strong and lasting trend to avoid the use of courts. The main reason for the trend are that court process are costly, and by their nature, adversarial. Thus, the people involved suffer a loss of money and goodwill toward each other. Increasingly, individuals are using negotiation, mediation, and arbitration to resolve their differences. These process and their hybrids are often called alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”).

As you make your Will, you have a significant opportunity to use ADR. Your Will can set out an ADR process for your executor, heirs, and others.


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Estate conflicts tips

  • Prevention is the best approach 
  • The executor you appoint plays a large part in preventing estate conflict
  • Using alternative dispute resolution clauses in your Will is a new, often unused, approach to addressing estate conflicts
  • Use a professional


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