7 Ways to Deal with Family Estate Disputes

Running a family business can be such a good opportunity to earn a steady income. Family businesses, however, do hit major challenges, especially in line with family disputes. Such disputes, if not amicably resolved, can tear the business apart. When resolving family business disputes, emphasis should be put on maintaining good relations between the family members. The dispute resolution mechanisms employed determines whether the business will stay together or not. Here are 7 key tips on how to deal with family estate disputes.

Establish a commitment to resolve the disputes

The first step towards resolving family disputes in the business is to bring everyone on board and establish a commitment to resolve the disputed issues internally. Such a commitment comes in handy in helping ensure that the dispute is not leaked out where some members may opt to go to court for alternative dispute resolution. Internal resolution of such disputes is much preferred as it is cost-effective, fast enough, and convenient. Commitment is highly necessary, especially in cases where such a dispute is as a result of failures among certain members within the family business.

Be prepared for possible complications

Dispute resolutions can be quite complicated. Depending on the nature of the dispute at hand, some family members may make certain assertions which may generally tend to derail the entire process of resolving the issues at hand. Complications may also arise in cases where the family members fail to show commitment and dedication to finding a resolution for the issues at hand. To ensure that the entire process is not delayed in such cases, it is crucial that other members exercise restraint and be sound in their reasoning and when handling other members. Being aware of the potential pitfalls that may affect the dispute resolution process also helps members of the family to exercise caution, patience, and willingness to work as a team.

Enforce transparency

When resolving disputes within the family, it is crucial to ensure transparency and goodwill at all levels. Transparency has to do with being truthful regarding the propositions made towards helping resolve the matters at hand. Cases where members of the family failed to show transparency often raises suspicion and tends to derail the entire process. When negotiating, it is important that every member involved in the process shows high levels of integrity and truthfulness.

Transparency is the first step towards winning the trust of the rest of the members in the negotiating team. It helps to bring together members of the family by eliminating any suspicions that may have been created as a result of the dispute. The entire negotiation process should, therefore, be transparent to ensure that the conclusion arrived at wins the confidence and support of all other members.

Work with a neutral partner

Sometimes when resolving a dispute within the family, members may have to agree on a neutral point. Neutrality is highly critical in helping ensure that every member in the family is given equal rights and that the entire process is conducted transparently. To enforce neutrality in the process of negotiating through a family dispute, it is important to work with a neutral partner. The role of a neutral party in the dispute resolution process includes providing neutral advice where necessary.

The neutral partner may also play additional roles as negotiating between the disputing parties. Contentious issues that family members cannot get to agree on should be laid on the table and have the mediator or advisor come up with propositions that help to arrive at a compromise that is agreeable by all the parties. The neutral partner plays a major role in helping deescalate the dispute crisis.

Compromise where necessary

Family businesses where there are multiple parties involved, each expressing contentious views, can be quite tough to bring together. Maintaining hardline positions by the members on contentious issues can be so detrimental to the business. Businesses where disputes set in and resolutions are not arrived at quickly often face financial challenges and may end up collapsing entirely.

When working towards resolving such disputes, it is important that each member involved in the process puts the interests of the business at heart. Having such a consideration helps ease the entire negotiation process and makes it possible to arrive at a conclusion. To avoid dragging the negotiation process for long, it is highly advisable to have family members consider offering a compromise where necessary. Such compromises should, however, be made on reasonable grounds to avoid being unfair on the affected party.

Set resolution goals

If unchecked, the entire process of resolving a family business dispute can drag on for a long duration of time. After members express interest in committing themselves towards resolving the dispute at hand, it is highly advisable to set a dispute resolution framework that outlines how the entire dispute resolution process is going to be handled. The framework should outline, among other things, any meetings to be scheduled, how such meetings are going to be coordinated, the contentious issues at hand, and the timeline by when the entire dispute resolution should be completed. Setting such goals gives the dispute resolution process a much-needed guideline and helps bind family members to a common goal that is easier to achieve.

Have the final resolution in writing

After the dispute negotiation and resolution process, the family should have the final conclusion universally agreed upon and written in an agreement form. The final agreement should, in this case, be written in the presence of professional property law attorneys such as Estate Law Boss Lawyers who have experience on issues of estate properties such as wills, probate, trusts, property management, and distribution of proceeds and profits from family estates.

Finalizing and compiling the final agreement in the form of a written document helps prevent further disputes that may arise after the conclusion. It also provides a framework of how the family business will be run while preventing the prospects of members taking advantage of each other after the dispute resolution process is over.

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