Trust & Family Financial Disputes

Described as "professional, impartial, efficient and persistent," "excellent," and "the best mediator I have had in years!" by mediation clients for whom she has resolved inheritance disputes, elder abuse and breach of fiduciary duty cases, Patricia Prince has both the compassion and the legal focus necessary to assist disputants in these highly−charged and difficult family financial disputes.

Special Care for Family Financial Disputes

Disputes in the areas of Elder Law, Trusts and Estates Law, and Fiduciary Law often involve financial, physical or emotional injury that is particularly difficult for parties to resolve due to family worries, tensions or a collapse in communication.  These types of financial disputes can tear families apart emotionally and simultaneously decimate or significantly diminish the value of the family assets at the root of the dispute.  In order to resolve these types of disputes, the mediator must be able to identify and navigate through issues such as a loss of trust, questions of identity, power struggles, and unhealthy relationship patterns of behavior, in addition to legal issues, to assist the parties in identifying mutual goals, prioritizing interests and finding a path to resolution.

Patricia enjoys working with families and believes mediation is a particularly effective process for the resolution of family financial conflicts, including inheritance disputes, family business disputes, family business succession disputes, sibling disputes over real property, trust and estate issues (both disputes in the planning stage, as well as litigated disputes), elder care disputes and other issues that arise as family members age and encounter changes in relationships and circumstances.  She works collaboratively with counsel and financial professionals, as needed, to ensure an integrated and efficient resolution of the dispute.

As noted by clients, Patricia Prince is an "excellent mediator" who quickly grasps legal and factual issues and is "comfortable with more complex financial issues, as well as emotional issues."

Resolving Litigated Cases

Patricia has significant experience helping lawyers and their clients resolve litigated cases including:

  • Disputes over Jointly−Owned Family Property or Business Ventures

    1. These cases include quiet title actions, partition actions, family partnership or limited liability company disputes, partnership dissolution, disagreements over succession planning or other disputes over family−owned commercial or residential property.
  • Trust and Estate Disputes

    1. Inheritance disputes and other family financial conflicts such as trust and will contests, actions to modify or interpret trusts, and actions for breach of fiduciary duty are particularly well−suited to resolution by mediation to help parties preserve family assets to the greatest degree possible.
      Mediation provides a safe and confidential environment in which the parties can work out their differences.  Importantly, allowing the parties to voluntarily reach an agreement through mediation requires each party to take responsibility for contributing to the resolution of the dispute.  This increases the likelihood that all parties will comply with the mediated agreement—without the significant investment of time, expense and risk of an adverse outcome posed by litigation.
  • Elder Law Disputes

    1. Ms. Prince mediates physical and financial elder abuse cases with a gentle, yet purposeful style, building rapport with the parties and efficiently working through legal issues with counsel to keep the session focused on resolution.  Ms. Prince has completed specialized training in elder mediation, bringing a greater depth of understanding to the resolution of physical and financial elder abuse cases.

Resolving Pre−Litigation Disputes

In addition to helping parties currently in litigation reach a mediated settlement, Ms. Prince also helps families with financial disputes resolve disagreements in order to avoid litigation.  Sometimes the parties themselves seek mediation, sometimes a concerned family member initiates the call, and sometimes counsel refers clients to Ms. Prince to try to resolve differences before moving forward with succession planning, estate planning, or other family financial arrangements that may have become derailed by family discord.

Mediating Disputes with Self−Represented Parties

Some parties prefer to mediate their disputes without the assistance of counsel during the mediation session.  Mediations with self−represented parties may take many forms−parties negotiating entirely without counsel; parties who consult with counsel prior to the mediation session and then again to draft an agreed set of terms; and various other options.

Ms. Prince has a track record of successfully mediating cases with self−represented parties, and over the years has developed techniques to assist self−represented parties in light of the different needs of these parties as compared to parties who are represented by counsel in a mediation session.

Solving the Problem

Whether mediating disputes with self−represented parties or parties represented by counsel, Ms. Prince is adept at identifying and resolving the underlying problems faced by the parties in the dispute.  Family financial disputes that enter the legal system, or that become contentious enough to consider litigation, are typically more complicated than financial disputes between parties with no prior acquaintance.  In family disputes, the legal issues are often interwoven with personal dynamics and behavioral history that can make the dispute seem intractable.  Ms. Prince is a skilled translator between the personal and financial interests of parties and the legal requirements of a pre−litigation or litigated case.

Pre−session preparation is vital to the success of your mediation.  The preparation process is modified and significantly customized for disputes with self−represented parties.

Pre−Session Preparation

Solving the problem in a family financial dispute begins before the commencement of the mediation session with a careful review of mediation statements prepared by counsel for the parties and a pre−mediation session telephone conference with counsel to discuss the most efficacious mediation process for the dispute, to identify key factors that counsel and the parties believe may positively or negatively affect settlement prospects, and to hone in on case dynamics.

  • Tools and Techniques

    1. Patricia has developed additional tools to assist counsel and the parties prior to the mediation session, including a questionnaire counsel often use to assist their clients in prioritizing their business interests, as well as their personal interests, and in gaining a better overt appreciation of the opposing side’s interests prior to the mediation session.  These tools and techniques help counsel and the parties prepare more effectively prior to the mediation session, which typically results in a more efficient session.
    • Curiosity, Empathy and Focus on Resolution

      1. Patricia listens carefully with curiosity and empathy for case themes and to understand the perspective of all parties of the dispute.  She works closely with counsel to analyze strengths and weaknesses of each side′s case; she helps the parties identify and prioritize their interests; and she keeps the parties focused on resolution as they negotiate, using her decade of ADR experience to move the parties through impasse to settlement.

    Bilingual (English/Spanish) and Culturally Fluent

    Ms. Prince embraces the opportunity to work with parties from diverse cultures.  She has significant expertise resolving disputes involving parties from the Latino and Asian communities, recognizing the large diversity within those communities, as well as within the generations who grow up in families shaped by the influences of both their parents’ country of origin and America.  These diversities can also create differences in family financial disputes, often exacerbated by the different frameworks within which the different family members have been shaped by their respective cultural experiences.

    • Fluent in Spanish

      1. Ms. Prince is fluent in Spanish and is particularly effective at building bridges in cases in which the approach to negotiation and conflict resolution of differing cultures may be exacerbating the dispute.
    • Cultural Fluency

      1. Her language skills and cultural fluency have proven invaluable in establishing the trust necessary to successfully resolve seemingly intractable disputes among parties from different cultures.

    Through her active mediation practice, study and teaching, Ms. Prince is continually deepening her international perspective and cultural competencies.  These skills have been called upon with increased frequency to successfully resolve family financial conflicts and business disputes.

    Patricia Prince