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Can a Probate Dispute Be Resolved Outside of Court?

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Losing a family member or loved one is never easy, and having to deal with the legal logistics of an estate while in mourning can add more stress to an already difficult situation.

Probate is the process of administrating a will and an estate after someone's death, and with probate comes potential disagreements among beneficiaries on how those assets will be distributed.

However, not all probate leads to conflict, and not all probate cases need to head to court. There are a handful of options, such as mediation and negotiation, that can save you time, worry, and maintain your privacy in a probate case.

Whether you are a personal representative (also known as an executor), a beneficiary, or simply involved in a probate case, the out-of-court options can offer an efficient path to a fair resolution for all parties involved.

To discuss your probate questions, or get started working with a probate lawyer today, call Miami Family Law Group. Our lawyers have extensive experience navigating probate and estate law and can answer your questions as well as guide you through your probate case.

Call today to get started protecting your and your loved one's assets. Reach us at 305-916-4053.

Understanding Probate Disputes

A probate dispute can throw a wrench into the already emotional and complex process of estate administration. However, it's unfortunately common for disagreements to arise among family members and other beneficiaries in the event of a death. Disputes can stem from the uncertain validity of a will, or simply be rooted in a firm disagreement over how the assets are being distributed. Family members may be worried about the actions or intentions of a personal representative or there may be issues with the estate planning documents.

In Florida, a probate dispute will typically be resolved through a formal litigation process while adhering to the Florida Probate Code. This code lays out the regulations of probate administration as well as probate proceedings.

However, there are alternative methods of approaching a probate dispute, and not every dispute has to end up in court. Below, we will discuss the strategies for resolving your probate disputes without getting the courts involved.

Ways of Settling Probate Disputes Out of Court

When it comes to resolving legal disputes, there are known ways to minimize court involvement. Here are our suggestions to keep your probate case out of court:

Direct Communication

Speaking directly with those involved and having honest conversations about the assets and how they will be distributed can save everyone a lot of time and frustration. Although not every person may one hundred percent agree with the terms of asset distribution, speaking openly allows those involved to address their qualms, and can potentially lead to amendments or compromises that satisfy everyone's needs.


A probate mediation process is a common method for resolving probate issues outside of court. In these sessions, a qualified neutral third party, such as a lawyer, can lead a discussion among the parties to reach a logical solution for everyone.

A probate mediator knows how to encourage a productive conversation and will have the legal knowledge to ensure everyone's best interests are taken into consideration. Mediators can help all parties understand their stakes as well as options, and find a mutually agreeable settlement that suits everybody.


In arbitration, all parties must agree to solicit the help of a neutral third party who will review the relevant information and facts and ultimately make a binding decision. Arbitration can have the feel of courtroom formality but is a cost-effective approach as opposed to litigation.


Similar to the above methods, but distinct due to parties meeting directly to discuss their interests and options. In negotiating, a third party may add to the conversation or serve as representation, but isn't there to act as a peacemaker or mediator.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is a newer approach to legal disputes where both parties work alongside their lawyers trained in collaboration to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

In probate or estate disputes, collaboration can look like meetings, negotiation sessions, and discussions where all involved parties meet to determine a fair consensus. Collaborative law does involve voluntary participation, transparency, and the sharing of potentially sensitive information. Yet, collaboration can be an effective way to avoid litigation while maintaining everyone's interests.

Settlement Agreements

Those involved in the probate case can voluntarily agree to a settlement that describes the probate terms. However, it is important to keep in mind that settlement agreements are legally binding once finalized.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, one of the above options could be of great benefit to you. We urge you to consider your options, because going to probate court not only involves higher costs, but can be both mentally and emotionally exhausting. Discuss your situation with a probate attorney to determine if an alternative to traditional litigation is appropriate for your case.

Benefits of Resolving Probate Out of Court

Cut Costs - Heading to court can drain your wallet, whereas resolving probate disputes outside of court can save you a ton. Depending on the alternative dispute resolution that you chose, you may be able to cut costs in half.

Quicker Resolution - Court battles can drag on for months, leaving you in a legal limbo without access to the assets you're fighting for. Settling out of court can not only get your probate finalized faster but can allow you and your loved ones to put the matter behind you and move forward with your lives.

Control and Flexibility - In court, the officials will be making decisions. Yet, depending on the path you chose to address probate disputes out of court, you have a greater opportunity to advocate for yourself and find a solution that best fits your and your family's needs.

Protect Relationships - When large assets or a hefty sum are at stake, family ties and relationships among beneficiaries can quickly be put to the side. Avoiding court, where it's hard not to view each other as opponents, can evade damages to those relationships while maintaining the legacy of your loved one.

Preserve Assets - It's common in probate and estate cases for the legal fees and court costs to come out of the assets that otherwise would have been given to the beneficiaries. Working on an agreement out of court can help save those assets from being spent before they are even sent your way.

Personalized Solutions - When left up to the court system, you can lose the opportunity to mend your agreement to reach your personal needs. Out-of-court settlements give everyone a chance to come up with creative solutions for their specific demands.

Timeline of Probate

The time frame for probate cases can range from several months to several years, depending on the factors involved. The complexity of the case, the availability of the court, and whether the estate dispute is resolved through mediation or litigation can all affect the timeline. A probate proceeding usually involves several phases: Initiation of the probate process, notice to the parties, inventory and valuation of the estate, attempts at mediation or settlement, potential litigation, trial or hearings, judgment or decisions, potential appeals, and resolution through settlement or a court judgment. At best, this can be completed in six to twelve months; at worst, years.

Challenges and Limitations

While we have discussed the benefits of avoiding the court system, there are unique challenges that can arise when taking decisions into your own hands.

The legal enforceability of your agreement may vary and could not carry the same weight as a court judgment. As well, depending on the family relationships, sometimes a court settlement can add a professional perspective as opposed to the confronting emotional dynamic of negotiating.

Without a formal process, the settlement may not address all details of the probate and could result in future legal disputes. Additionally, the remedies provided in a settlement may not look the same as they would in a formal trial and may leave individuals receiving less than they had hoped for.

Considering the pros and cons of working outside of court, it's best to work with a probate attorney to ensure that your pros outweigh your cons.

Consult With a Probate Attorney Today

When it comes to a probate matter in the sunshine state, you want to make sure the estate is in the best hands. At Miami Family Law Group, we've got the legal know-how along with decades of probate and estate law experience to handle your case in the most efficient and effective way.

With our team of skilled lawyers by your side, you won't have to worry about confronting the complexities of a probate dispute on your own. Our law firm can provide you with personalized guidance and top-rate legal resources to make sure your rights and interests are protected every step of the way.

Don't leave your assets unprotected. Speak with one of our probate attorneys to determine what path to probate dispute resolution best serves you. Whether you have questions concerning Florida probate or are eager to get working on your case, our lawyers are available to help.

Call today to start discussing your options. Dial 305-916-4053.

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The experienced attorneys and staff at Miami Family Law Group, PLLC are here to serve you Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. We understand that divorce is not a decision anyone takes lightly and want to help you move through the process as painlessly as possible. Call us at (305) 701-2901 to discuss your case. If you contact us outside of business hours, we will respond to you when our office opens the following day. We’re here for you because family matters.

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