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Property dispute between siblings

How I resolved a dispute related to division of property between siblings in the absence of a will.


A,B,C, D, E are siblings living in the United States . They emigrated between 1975 to 1985. One sibling came in 1975 and started bringing the other siblings. They shared a close relationship with each other until 2015 when parents who lived in India died without a will. 


Siblings were unable to communicate effectively with each other to find a way to divide the property. Two groups were formed with their own positions on how the property was to be divided. Elders in the family intervened to ‘mediate’ a resolution without success.


I was approached by the eldest sibling of the family to serve as a professional mediator. I worked with her to convince the other siblings to participate in this professional process with me.  We resolved the dispute in 2 months.


Through joint and private sessions, it was revealed there was much hurt between the brothers re care for their father over the last 10 years of his life. Some brothers felt that they sent money home consistently for many years unlike the other brothers and were therefore entitled to a higher share. The brothers felt that they deserved significantly more than the sisters, since the parents had spent more money on the daughters for their wedding. The sisters were hurt that the brothers felt they deserved more considering the open home they provided for their brothers from the time they first moved to the US.


Through many conversations that helped the groups understand each others’ perspectives, deep desires and the law regarding division of property when there is no will, the siblings found settlement terms re division of their parents property that were acceptable to all.


The mediator used the expert lawyer to help the parties (1) understand the law (2) the risks and opportunities of litigation (3) obtain a reality check on the cost and time of litigation (4) draft , register and execute the terms of the agreement, after the terms were found through the mediation.


After terms regarding division of the property were found, the mediator worked with the siblings through a process to rebuild their relationship – a need that was clearly identified by all the siblings, early on in the mediation.

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