Your will and mediation

The Kaptyn estate/family dispute has the wealth and high profile personalities to capture media attention.

But the problems that Justice David Brown is trying to resolve in that case are hardly unique.

John Kaptyn left his $75 million estate to charity and his grandchildren, intending to by-pass his two sons, who he knew did not get along. But he named them as executors under his will. And because they could not agree on how to do that, they have been fighting it out in court, for four years.

While many life events cause conflict, by far the greatest ones are death, divorce and losing a job. And although we all hear of cases like the Kaptyn case, we all think it won’t happen to us.

It is common for people to name their children as executors of their wills. But that can be a problem where the children cannot agree on how to interpret or implement the will. Administering an estate is a challenging, exhausting and thankless job, as anyone who has ever done it knows. Add to that the stress of a difficult family history, or sibling/family dysfunction, and you can have a recipe for disaster.

Increasingly, people are being advised to name a mediator right in their wills– so that if a problem does arise, the executors will know who to turn for help. What better way to avoid these predictable problems than to include a dispute resolution process in your will and appoint someone you trust to guide that process.