Coping with the death of a loved one can be very difficult. It can be even more difficult after the fact when handling complicated legal issues involving a farm if disputes remain among family members over land ownership and equipment.
“Anytime you’re dealing with generational issues, land use, or distribution of land and property, you’re going to come into family conflicts,” says Marc Stanley, Executive Director of Southeastern Dispute Resolution Services, which is based out of Jackson. It is also part of the Michigan Community Mediation Association.
He says many legal issues come up because families don’t have a thorough plan in place.
“There’s going to come a time where you have to have a long-term plan for what’s going to happen with that property and what’s going to happen within the family,” according to Stanley. “If you don’t have a plan and if you aren’t having those conversations about roles, responsibilities, what to do with the property, and what to do for maintenance of the property or the maintenance of the equipment, conflicts are going to arise. There are going to be disputes on who’s getting what and who’s doing what.”
Stanley says many of those legal issues involving family disputes over land and equipment can be resolved through mediation.
“We’re dealing with grief—and probate and family matters can be the most difficult because of the stress and because of the unknown,” says Stanley. “The mediators can both be the family therapist and help navigate them through this decision-making process, which is going to make things ultimately easier for them and easier for the court. They’re going to spend less time in court and they’re going to maintain their power to make the decisions without outside influence.
For more information about Southeastern Dispute Resolution Services, visit sedrs.org.
To find a mediation center near you, visit michiganmediates.org.
Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news report and interview with Marc Stanley, Executive Director of Southeastern Dispute Resolution Services, a member of the Michigan Community Mediation Association.