Introduction to Collaborative Practice Estates & Trusts

Collaborative Practice Estates & Trusts takes a professional team model — Collaborative Practice — that’s been highly successful in the arena of divorce over the past 20 years, and applies it to the fields of estate planning and settlement.  In general, Collaborative Practice is an alternative dispute resolution model that is designed to keep families out of court, and to assist them in finding their own solutions with non-biased professional support.  The chief benefits include building understanding, creating better solutions, healing relationships, and lowering costs — all while cooling, rather than fanning, the flames of conflict and dispute that so often arise in adversarial, impersonal court-supervised settings.

There are a number of factors that make Collaborative Practice unique:

  • First, it provides a well-defined structure that is proven effective in containing and resolving family conflict, even in intense situations.  It’s built on a firm foundation of established protocols and professional training.  For example, professionals agree in writing, in advance, to avoid litigation.  Respect, communication and transparency are key elements; in fact, all parties usually meet together, at least once.  No material information is withheld from the group.  The entire team is on the field and in motion while the ball is in play.  They aren’t just called in when a particular issue needs to be addressed.
  • Second, it is recognized by law and the courts, in the United States and abroad.  Thus, it has the power to provide sustainable, real-world solutions.
  • Third, it provides an unparalleled vehicle for resolving the complex, multi-dimensional aspects of family transitions that involve money, individual needs and viewpoints, and the law.  We think of it as a Cadillac® experience for the family in terms of their needs being met.  The professional team always includes at least one attorney, psychological professional, and neutral financial advisor who are not only skilled in their own domains, but also trained in working successfully together as a team.  As a result, Collaborative Practice can address the multiple dimensions of family interests, and assist clients in exploring and creating effective solutions that address their individual and collective interests.  Not only do people feel listened to and supported, but also they actively participate in crafting solutions, which helps defuse the fear, anger and resentment people often feel when life-altering decisions are completely out of their hands.

Collaborative Practice Trusts & Estates may be thought of as a form of alternative dispute resolution, like mediation.  Indeed, it is a form of alternative dispute resolution.  But in the case of estates and trusts, it can also be used pre-mortem, during the estate planning process.  Thus, we have the opportunity to work with families to head off divisive issues before they become entrenched; to share and discover values; to create family vision; and to work together.  The result is individuals and families that are equipped and prepared to enjoy more satisfying, connected and fruitful lives going forward.  And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?