In this article, you will learn about:
- How elder law mediation can help to preserve family relationships and repair damaged lines of communication.
- The importance of a comprehensive professional team in elder law matters.
- When you should begin looking for an elder law mediation attorney.
What Exactly Is Elder Law Mediation And What Does That Mean?
Elder Law Mediation is the resolution of all issues pertaining to an aging or a deceased parent. Mediation covers all the vital interests of family members and any other interested parties. These proceedings are used to help opposing parties reach an agreeable outcome outside of a courtroom.
This is just the basic definition. This article will explore why it’s important to use mediation in difficult elder family situations and exactly how to accomplish successful mediation.
What Experts Do You Need To Resolve An Elder Care Matter?
My practice focuses on orchestrating close coordination with all key professionals in the community of care, which we refer to as the Resource Team. In each case, this team will vary depending on the family’s needs and interests.
For any given case, the Resource Team may include:
The people who fill these roles are essential in helping to manage the medical care and physical care (such as help with dressing, eating, etc.) of elderly adults. Additionally, care managers could be very helpful in the search for alternative housing. Why? Because these individuals can often provide key information when determining whether the best care will be provided in a nursing home, a retirement home, or the family home.
Estate planning attorneys are a critical part of the team as they work to put together all the documents needed to create legal security. The documents that make up a complete estate plan can include: wills, trusts, power of attorney, medical directives, and more.
Financial planners work with families in mediation to assure that the funds being considered in a care plan are appropriate given the size of the family estate, the elder adult’s marital estate, their individual estate, and more.
Realtor Estate Agents
If a family home needs to be sold, our firm works with a team of realtors. Additionally, through work with realtors and other professionals, we could help establish a safe and conducive living environment for those who wish to “Age In Place” and stay in their homes.
When it comes to elder law mediation, physicians provide more than essential medical care. As medical experts, a physician can make particularly essential recommendations for care.
While family members may not necessarily be “professional experts” when it comes to mediating elder law cases – their presence and participation is the most important facet of any case.
In each of these matters, our main focus is to convene the family and bring them to the table. By doing this, we seek to prevent and mitigate high levels of conflict while avoiding court.
While there are many different reasons for this, we believe that mediation’s greatest asset to a family is its ability to facilitate roadblocked conversations about care. When a matter goes to court, parties lose their ability to have a “say” and allow a judge to make the final choice for them. This fact, paired with the significant reduction in expenditure provided through mediation, is why our firm is committed to providing these essential services.
Why Should Families Choose Mediation?
Mediation in an elder care dispute brings the family together to make the best decisions possible.
As our loved ones age or pass, tension and stress levels often increase. Very often, unresolved family issues are exacerbated during this high-stress period. As a result, issues easily come forth regarding care and decision-making for the elder parent.
In these cases, it’s invaluable to work with a neutral mediator who can understand and listen to everyone about what is going on and who can — in his or her own way – bring balance and stability to the family dynamic. In this way, a neutral environment can be facilitated that nurtures the opportunity for the best and most resourceful decisions to be made for the parent and the family.
In situations where elder law mediation is used when the parent has already passed, the “questions” at hand don’t have to do with the parent’s care – but rather their estate and heirs (who are most commonly the children of that individual).
If the disputing parties in the family are not at their best, and if the facts and circumstances cause heated disagreement, elder law mediation can provide an elegant solution to a very difficult situation.
Through mediation, we work to hold space and frame for real conciliation. When real conciliation is not yet available, mediation helps everyone involved to make it through this period. In every case, we do our best to nurture the hope for all parties to reconcile earlier differences that might be in the way of getting to a good solution.
Why Is Early Intervention Best In These Matters? What Happens When We Wait Too Long To Mediate Issues Surrounding Our Loved Ones?
Early intervention is always the best in any sort of conflict. In fact, you could say that early intervention starts with conflict prevention.
So, if a family brings a mediator in early on, the mediator will have the greatest ability to serve the family and bring the entire Resource Team to the table. By doing this, there is the greatest opportunity for establishing a well-integrated plan on behalf of the family.
As mentioned earlier in this article, your Resource Team may include an Estate Planner, Care Manager, Realtor, Financial Planner, Physician, and more. Each of these professionals has their own “universe of concern” as it relates to the elder adult’s care and wellbeing. By combining their insights early in the planning process, it can be much easier to establish a thoughtful, comprehensive plan.
How Do You Determine What Will Make Up A Complete Care Plan?
One of the most important aspects of any elder law matter is the question of where the elderly adults stand in their own development process.
For example, if an elder is dealing with a memory issue, while their spouse still has capacity, the parent with capacity will likely become the most critical decision-maker, in the early mediation process. The family’s role, in this case, is to support and bring love to their parents, supporting the best decisions for their situation.
On the other hand, if an elder parent still has mental capacity, but is ill and being obstreperous, angry, or hostile, (which sometimes occurs with aging and illness), these are specific concerns that need to be addressed and dealt with mindfully as a family. These challenging situations must be carefully maneuvered and worked through by balancing the interests and needs of the elder while maintaining their dignity and honor.
Ultimately, dignity and respect are at the core and important for everyone. Especially as we’re nearing the end of our lives, it’s essential that we maintain and treat others similarly with these qualities. It’s easy to understand how this fact is also true for how everyone in the family is treated.
If the family culture is struggling to maintain honor, dignity, and respect, we will do what we can to bring that newly into their way of working with one another during mediation. Even in the most complicated situations, utilizing this approach early on brings about the best results, time and time again.
The longer that issues go unresolved and untreated, the greater the likelihood of tension, stress, and irritability. What’s more, these situations can bring about an increased level of trauma from the grief and loss of a loved one. So again, the earlier in the process mediation begins, the more thoughtful and mindful the decision-making process can be.