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Surrogate’s Court Mediation

"I was fighting with my brother over who should get mom's house now that she has passed away and didn't leave a will. Mediation helped us figure out what to do, and finally we can talk to each other again."
"My sister handled my father's estate. He left money to both of us and I didn't know how it was being spent."

How Surrogate’s Court Mediation Works

In mediation people can:

  • Decide and prioritize what issues they need to discuss,
  • Share information,
  • Make decisions about what to do about the situation,
  • Develop understanding of other points of view,
  • Create written agreements when needed.

Mediation provides a forum for people to have face-to-face conversations about the issues important to them. It is a voluntary and confidential process that can help families have difficult conversations that are facilitated by an impartial mediator. Mediation helps communication and supports the parties’ own decision-making.

Based on decisions reached during mediation, a written agreement can be created and a copy provided to all parties, Surrogate’s Court, or other agencies (if pending). Agreements are only written when all parties have decided they would like one.

Common Issues for Surrogate's Court Mediation

Typical issues that people discuss in Surrogate's mediation:

  • Objections to a will being admitted to the court,
  • Objections to who will be responsible to handle and distribute the wealth of an Estate or as part of a Guardianship,
  • Disagreements about the accounting filed by the person responsible (fiduciary),
  • Requests to make a responsible person (fiduciary) account for his/her actions after a period of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I begin the mediation process?
Contact the Mediation Center for an in-person, confidential intake appointment.  A staff member will meet with all parties to learn about the situation in more depth and explain how mediation works.  Mediation is provided when all parties have decided that they want to schedule a session.  If your case is already in Surrogate’s Court, the court may refer you to mediation.

Who are the mediators?
Surrogate’s Court mediators are professionally trained staff and volunteers who are versed in Surrogate’s Court practice and procedure and who have received extensive training to mediate with extended families in conflict. 

How much does mediation cost?
Surrogate's Court Mediation is provided on a sliding fee scale based on each party’s individual income.

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