How is mediation different?

After practicing law in Tennessee for more than thirty years, and after taking the required forty hours of mediation training, Mr. Crane was listed as a Rule 31 General Civil Mediator by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2018. He is primarily focused on mediating cases involving estates, but he is authorized to mediate any civil dispute for which the parties request his services.  He has been involved in many estate cases which could have been resolved at much less cost and with resulting greater distributions to the beneficiaries, if the beneficiaries had been willing to submit to mediation. Those experiences motivated him to pursue listing as a mediator.

Mediation allows the parties to the dispute to settle their dispute on their own  terms with the assistance of a mediator, rather than having a court determine the outcome of the dispute on terms that no one may like. A mediator with experience in the type of dispute being mediated will bring his/her wisdom and knowledge acquired as a result of that experience to the mediation, which can help the parties reach a settlement that is realistic and fair to all parties.

Mediation is much less stressful, less expensive, and quicker than litigation. The parties still have the opportunity to tell their sides of the case to the mediator, but in an informal way, without the restrictions imposed by rules of evidence, procedure, and law. Mediation allows the parties to address issues which would be legally irrelevant in a court proceeding, but which are still important to the parties. It is much less expensive because the attorneys for the parties do not have to spend many hours preparing the case for trial in a court. Mediation usually results in quicker resolutions of disputes because the parties do not have to wait months or years for their cases to get set on a court’s crowded docket for hearing.

Mediations usually take place at the offices of one of the attorneys involved or at the mediator’s offices. The parties are usually kept in different rooms so that the mediator can hear each party’s side of the dispute, which allows each party to speak freely without upsetting the other parties. The mediator goes to the rooms of each of the parties during the course of the mediation to convey settlement proposals until a settlement is reached.

Everything said in a mediation is confidential, and may not be used in a court proceeding. The mediator may not be called to testify in a court proceeding about anything said or done in the mediation.

Often disputes concerning estates involve family dynamics as much as money. The only thing a court can do is address the legal and financial issues of the estate. The court will not even consider family dynamics when dealing with an estate dispute. This can leave the family members even more wounded and estranged than they were before the estate dispute began. Family dynamics can at least be aired in an estate mediation, and the mediation may even result in some degree of reconciliation of the parties. A mediator with experience in estate disputes will be alert to signs of family dynamics which affect the dispute, and may help the parties address those dynamics in a helpful way.

During the course of his law practice, Mr. Crane has worked with many of the attorneys in East Tennessee who handle estate cases. If you are involved in an estate or other civil case and wish to attempt to resolve the dispute by mediation, Mr. Crane will be pleased to discuss the possibility of serving as mediator.