Who should participate in a facilitated meeting?
Any person with an interest in the outcome and/or decision-making authority should participate. At Sanchez and Baietto our intake process includes an assessment of recommended and required participants. It is always necessary to include professionals involved such as a guardian or trustee, or the lawyer representing an estate planning client whose adult children are in disagreement. Care managers, spouses, adult children’s spouses and adult grandchildren should be included if they exert influence in any way. Not all participants must participate in all meetings and as the facilitated meeting unfolds, information will come to light showing whether parties remain necessary or can be excused.
How is a facilitated meeting different from a mediation?
Mediations are sessions where attorneys and their clients meet with a mediator to negotiate and hopefully resolve a pending legal dispute. Facilitated meetings can take place at any time and often take place prior to any legal action being initiated in order to avoid a lawsuit. Facilitated meeting can also take place during a lawsuit simply to help narrow or resolve issues and post lawsuit to resolve any remaining differences and prevent further litigation.
How many facilitated meetings are needed?
The number of meetings will vary per case. Usually, there are a series of meetings with each meeting lasting about three hours. It is not normally feasible to identify issues, discuss them, hear from the participants and formulate solutions in one meeting. The dignity and type of process we are engaging in demands patience, sensitivity and thoroughness.
If participants are all local, the meetings can be scheduled weekly, with time between meetings to think about the issues and possible solutions. If one or more participants are out of the local area where the meeting is held, skyping via computer is an alternative. Skyping allows non local participants to meaningfully participate in the proceeding by being both seen and heard and by said participant being able to see and hear the meeting. It is an effective way to eliminate excessive cost and include necessary out of state parties.
Where do the facilitated meetings take place?
The meetings take place at a comfortable, neutral location. Possibilities include an ailing parents’ home or Assisted Living Facility (ALF)/Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), a church, temple, library, the trustee or guardian’s office, or the estate planning lawyer’s office.