It would be great if we could always see eye to eye with our family. In practice, as we all know, conflicts will arise among our loved ones.

One way that families can resolve these conflicts is by using mediation. Mediation brings in a neutral third party to help all the parties come to a mutual agreement. The mediator doesn’t force you to make any decisions. The mediator is there to help facilitate the conversation and identify areas where agreement may be found.

Because estate planning and other end-of-life issues are so emotionally charged, this is a frequent source of disagreement within a family. These are five common issues that a mediator can help your family work through if you’re at an impasse.

Location of residence

Where your loved ones will live can produce a lot of questions. Will they downsize, sell the family home to move into a smaller place? Will they move into an assisted living facility or move in with one of their children? If you and your relatives are spread out throughout the country, where your loved ones ultimately live can be an especially sensitive topic.

Selling of property

Your loved ones may want to sell some family heirlooms or jewelry that could have strong sentimental appeal to you and other relatives. Selling the family vacation home may be another topic that produces disagreement within your family.


Will contests are difficult and expensive. When disputes arise during the administration of an estate, mediation is often a better way to reach resolution. Some common topics for dispute resolution are issues regarding who shall serve as Personal Representative, distribution of family heirlooms, dealing with loans or advances made to beneficiaries, or issues concerning the care of a surviving spouse.

Medical decisions

Discussing end-of-life health care options is a difficult conversation to have, but it is an important topic to address. If family members don’t know what a loved one wants, or are in disagreement about how to carry out the person’s wishes, a facilitated family meeting, possibly with a health advocate, geriatric care manager or hospice social worker may help the family reach consensus.

Power of attorney

If your loved ones become incapacitated, they’ll need someone to help make decisions for them. Creating a power of attorney allows someone–typically a child or other trusted relative–to make financial and medical decisions on their behalf. Mediation can help provide transparency and a plan for the person acting as an attorney-in-fact under a Durable Power of Attorney.

Elder mediation is a good tool to use to help resolve conflict in a constructive atmosphere. Having an open dialogue that everyone is a part of will help you reach mutual agreements while helping to preserve harmony within your family.