Probate disputes among family members

Disputes over an inheritance, interpretation and administration of trusts and the validity of a will are becoming increasingly common. Grounds for a probate dispute may arise, for example, when the existing will or trust is considered to be invalid or where a will has been made by someone who was not in a position to understand fully what they were doing at the time or someone has been pressurised into making a will in specific terms.Lack of capacity as well as undue influence are commonly grounds for attacking wills and trusts that have been modified or amended by an elder person often disinheriting one or more members of a family.  Often a badly drafted will or trust is the cause of the problem; sometimes there may not be a will at all.  But even the best drafted estate planning instruments, including wills, trusts and powers of attorneys create opportunities for abuse by those who wish to take advantage of an elder adult. 


Families often end up spending almost the entire estate on legal fees that could have been avoided. In a recent mediation conducted by Mr. Sankary, the legal fees for an attorney for one child alone amounted to $600,000. The legal fees for defending the trust amounted to over $500,000.  This was spent before trial.  Mr. Sankary was able to assist the parties to settle the case in one day and stop all future legal expenses. Mediation is the perfect solution to avoiding these expenses.  


Mr. Sankary is one of the most qualified mediators to assist parties in resolving probate disputes, including will contests, conservatorships that deal with conflicts over managing the needs of elder parents, and conflicts among family members over administration of a trust or probate estate.  Few mediators have the combined experience in mediation, as well as estate practice and probate.  He has specialized in representing clients in estate planning (wills and trusts) as well as probate and conservatorships for over 40 years. He also serves on behalf of the Probate court (known as the PVP panel attorney) to investigate the need for proposed conservatorships of adults whose mental and physical competency has been put into question by a family member and to report his findings to the court so a decision can be made by the judge whether to impose a conservatorship on the elder person.  Further, Mr. Sankary has been appointed by the court as both a independent conservator of a incompetent adult as well as an independent  trustee of trusts where the family members are in conflict over the administration of the family estate.  In this capacity, Mr. Sankary has had to invest and manage the funds of the estate as well as provide extensive accountings to the courts of all of his activities as trustee. 


Mr. Sankary is also one of the leaders and founding members of the Board of Directrs in the formation of the new non-profit organization known as ARMS - Adult Resolution Mediation Services.  This organization was formed to promote mediation services to resolve conflicts involving elder adults and their families and to train mediators in the multitude of complex issues facing elder adults and their families. 

To get more information about ARMS, please visit the ARMS website a:

Mr. Sankary is one of the first probate and estate planning attorneys to have completed this unique and extensive training offered by ARMS which is described on its webpage as follows:

Adult Resolutions & Mediation Services (ARMS) is an innovative project which addresses the specific decision making needs of older adults and their families to improve quality of life and care choices in Los Angeles.  Recognizing the unique issues, transitions, and potential for conflict inherent in the natural process of aging, ARMS provides training and workshops to consumers and mediators including: 

ARMS Essentials for Elder Adult Mediation

ARMS conducted its first 3-day advanced mediator training program in cooperation with the Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding Program, California State University, Dominguez Hills May of 2009.  Continuing education programs will be offered throughout the year.

Mr. Sankary will be presenting one of the continuing education programs on behalf of ARMS on the subject of which he is one of the leading recognized experts: 


Location: Ken Edwards Center, Santa Monica, Understanding principles of social influence will prepare the mediator for dealing with the dynamics of conflict and helping the participants to reach agreement. Speaker and Facilitator Myer J. Sankary, ESQ. CMCT Advanced Mediation Services ADR Services, Inc.

Mr. Sankary offers free initial consultation to families facing the difficult problems of dealing with elder adults and the myriad of complex issues that face them and their families.  Find out whether mediation is appropriate for your situation by calling Mr. Sankary at 818-231-2965. 





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