Breaking news: According to a 2021 California Court of Appeal ruling known as Breslin v. Breslin, the court can order your trust litigation matter to mediation. If you have found yourself amid California trust litigation, and the court has ordered that you mediate, sitting out can result in forfeiting all control of the outcome of mediation, the other parties can shape it to hurt or outright undermine your interests, and the outcome is legally binding with no chance for appeals.
At Gokal Law Group, we have successfully helped mediate during countless Breslin mediations. We fiercely represent our clients’ interests. Learn more about this order and its implications in our blog.
What is a Breslin Mediation in California Trust Litigation?
Breslin notices and mediation refer to a California Court of Appeal ruling, referred to as Breslin v. Breslin (2021) 62 Cal. App. 5th 801.
This decision gives California probate courts new authority to compel beneficiaries, including charities, to mediate privately to resolve California trust litigation or otherwise potentially forfeit their interests in a contested trust.
Breslin v. Breslin may also alter pre-trial procedures of trust proceedings through its interpretation of California Probate Code Section 17206, which grants that “the probate court has the power to order the parties into mediation.”
But what if one of the parties doesn’t want to engage in mediation?
With this new expansion of probate court power, “the court in its discretion may make orders and take any other action necessary or proper to dispose of the matters presented by the petition” (Breslin, supra at 806).
Before, California probate law held that parties who chose to not participate in a California trust litigation trial were bound by the result of the trial. Under Breslin, however, non-litigants who receive notice of a court-ordered mediation but decline to participate could potentially forfeit their right to object to any settlement agreement from mediation.
Experienced trust litigation lawyers, like the attorneys at Gokal Law Group, will understand that, while the court has the power to decline the approval of a settlement agreement following court-ordered mediation, this is incredibly rare.
“At Gokal Law Group, we have successfully mediated numerous Breslin mediations, and we can help you navigate your case to bring matters to an effective and timely resolution if one party is outright refusing to participate in court-ordered mediation.” – Abbas Gokal, Trust Litigation Lawyer, Gokal Law Group
How Does a Breslin Mediation Affect California Trust Litigation?
So, what does this mean when you are on the brink or in the thick of California trust litigation? All “interested parties” to a court-ordered mediation (or any mediation for that matter) should never elect to “sit out” during mediation and decline to participate.
Choosing to sit out exposes you to the risk of a highly unfavorable settlement. If you are not there to advocate for yourself, no one will do so for you, and you cannot challenge the outcome of a Breslin mediation.
In the past, a settlement reached via mediation was only legally binding when there was a written agreement among the parties. Now, when the court orders a Breslin mediation, the outcome is legally binding whether or not there is a written agreement.
What Should I Know About Breslin Mediations in California Trust Litigation?
For Breslin to apply and be legally binding, the affected parties must receive proper notice of mediation. Generally, the court will hold a first hearing on a Trust petition 90 or more days after this notice was filed.
By this time, the “interested parties” will have received proper notice of the petition, and those who wish to object will have filed a formal objection to the Petition. These parties are referred to as “objectors.”
When someone objects to this petition, this is when the potential for a Breslin order arises. During this hearing, or any hearing that might follow, the Court can issue a Breslin order in which the probate court will order mandatory mediation.
When this happens, the petitioner must give notice of mediation in compliance with the standards and parameters set by Breslin.
Are You Facing a Breslin Mediation? Let Us Successfully Mediate Your Case With Your Best Interests in Mind!
Breslin has changed the landscape of California trust litigation. If you are an interested person with rights under a trust subject to a Breslin Order, you cannot afford to sit out and not participate. If you choose to sit out, the parties who do participate in mediation can create a settlement that negatively affects you and your rights, and any complaints to the Probate Court about inequity will fall on deaf ears.
If you have found yourself embroiled in trust litigation or a trust dispute, visit our Contact Us page and schedule a free consultation for premier representation to represent your best interests with a favorable settlement and retain your right to your inheritance.
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