The vast majority of estate cases never go to trial because the parties enter into settlement agreements. A settlement agreement can be agreed upon at any time, even after a trial has begun. Negotiating a settlement with terms to which both sides can agree is complicated. Always talk to your attorney first if you are considering a settlement or need advice about your legal options.
A settlement occurs when both sides in the case reach an agreement to end the litigation. Concessions made in the agreement end the lawsuit. Depending on the disagreements present in the case, the settlement agreement could involve numerous specific agreements or concessions.
Let’s say you file suit against your brother because you don’t think he adequately performed his duties as executor of your parent’s estate. During discovery you found that while your brother may not have acted inappropriately, he took some questionable actions with the estate. To settle the case, you and your brother enter into an agreement to hire a third-party to serve as co-executor of the estate and ensure your brother is acting appropriately.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
To reach a settlement, the two sides might participate in alternative dispute resolution, commonly referred to as ADR. A court might require the two sides to participate in alternative dispute resolution, or they might agree to the process on their own.
There are two basic types of ADR: arbitration and mediation.
Arbitration is the more formal procedure. A neutral third-party arbitrator acts like a judge and decides the outcome of the dispute. In binding arbitration the two sides must abide by the arbitrator’s decision, while in non-binding arbitration they are free to accept or refuse the arbitrator’s ruling.
Mediation is a more informal process. In mediation the two sides meet with a neutral mediator. The mediator allows the two sides to discuss their issues in a neutral setting, but does not to make a ruling or impose a decision. While the mediator might suggest possible solutions, the parties are not required to abide by the mediator’s suggestions.
While most estate litigation cases end in settlements, many do not. For additional information about the settlement process, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about a settlement agreement, contact an experienced attorney at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 to schedule your appointment today.