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Resolving Disputes When COVID-19 Impacts Courts

Top Five Tips for Successful Guardianship and Power of Attorney Mediations

As you know, many things have ground to a halt due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, one thing that hasn’t stopped, and likely will increase, is elder abuse, power of attorney disputes, and contested guardianship matters. The courts have closed except for hearing “urgent” matters and “select” motions and applications, and there is no guarantee that every one of these disputes will be considered “urgent” or “select”. So one of the few dispute resolution options people in these situations have right now is mediation. 

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, our lawyers Nimali Gamage and Jessie Lamont wrote an article for the Ontario Bar Association Elder Law Newsletter entitled: The Devil is in the Details: Top Five Tips for Mediating a Guardianship Dispute. It was published a couple of weeks ago.

Little did they know how timely it would be.

The article explains not only why it's important to chose the right mediator, but under which circumstances you should consider a "black-letter-law" mediator and when a "people-focussed" mediator. It articulates why it's important for the incapacitated person to have his or her own lawyer. It outlines everything you need to prepare in advance, including understanding that person's income and expenses, and surveying who will be appointed guardian. It gives tips on how to handle a client who is his or her own worst enemy when it comes to mediation. And it stresses the importance of remembering all the practical implications of a settlement, so that it works for everyone involved.   

Jan Goddard and Nimali Gamage have decades of legal experience in guardianship and power of attorney disputes and would be pleased to assist people resolve these disputes by acting as their mediator. We can conduct the mediation by video call or telephone during this time of physical distancing. Please contact either of us directly to get more information about this service.