As neutral, professionally trained mediators, we work to establish an open and honest dialogue about family members’ concerns in order to move the decision-making process forward. In our experience, family dynamics play an integral role in determining whether or not shared land will remain in the family, family legacies will be preserved, and family relationships will be positive and healthy. Using extensive mediation training and experience, we provide a positive atmosphere for families to reach critical points of agreement.

To achieve optimal, thorough long-term planning for land and assets, it is essential to carefully consider the legal structures currently in place; it is equally important to consider family members’ emotions regarding their land and assets, their differing thoughts about their ownership or inheritance, and their individual circumstances, financial and otherwise. Making certain everyone’s voice is included in the process is crucial for a successful resolution that survives multiple generations.

Our tried and true mediation method is a family retreat, which we facilitate with the family. We begin with confidential phone interviews with each family member and any other significant stakeholders. During these calls, we begin working to build, or reestablish, a spirit of collaboration and cooperation while developing a preliminary agenda to be refined at the start of the retreat.

We establish a time when all family members can participate in a three-to-four day retreat to really dive into the issues. Each of the family members makes a firm commitment to be fully engaged and focused during the retreat. Depending on the family’s situation, the primary focus is on the solutions and options for moving forward in a positive way. We determine the topics to be discussed from the confidential interview process with family members. We understand there can be many different complex pieces to a family’s land holdings, their foundation, and their assets.

During the retreat, we strive to establish an inclusive environment, ensuring each participant has the opportunity to speak and be heard by others. We carefully track and record all the agreements reached by the family, while we help them focus on the issues at hand. One of our goals is to help the family develop communication skills while they discuss, negotiate and reach collaborative decisions. Even families with well-developed existing relationships find that this process helps clear up misunderstandings and often leads to greater closeness. We have successfully helped many families improve their communication and decision-making capacity while resolving their issues.

Within two to three weeks following the retreat, we provide the family with a comprehensive summary that includes all the agreements reached and an outline of the conversation. If a family requests additional assistance to maintain the positive momentum, we may schedule additional meetings or a follow-up. Our goal is to achieve collaboration and resolution as quickly as possible while making certain the pertinent issues are successfully addressed.

Read more about Creating Collaborative Agreement on Family Land Use and Distribution.