Mediation Matters – Property Conflicts and Family Harmony



Mediation is a useful tool to resolve a variety of civil and family conflicts which can escalate to violence. At Community Mediation property disputes are common. These types of disputes tear families apart, and, they are often the cause of long, expensive and heartbreakingly acrimonious court battles. While family patriarchs and matriarchs may want to ensure that family members are well cared for and property is passed from one generation to another, if not properly executed, it can lead to insecurity and added and unwanted stress in times of grief.

Here’s what you can do to minimize property disputes:

Make a Will – A Will is a legal document which expresses one’s wishes as to how property is to be distributed upon death. Trinidadians are sometimes superstitious and are afraid of making a Will, afraid that that is ‘calling death upon oneself.’ However a Will simply ensures that final wishes are executed after death and that the property passes to the intended inheritor. A properly made Will, lodged in the High Court cannot be easily contested. While a Will is the cheapest option for the person bequeathing the property, it may be inconvenient and expensive for the person who is benefitting from the contents of the Will.

Create a Life Interest Deed – This is a legal document that simply changes the Deed to indicate who will inherit the property upon your passing. This option ensures that process of passing the property from one generation to the other is done smoothly without either being inconvenienced.

Ensure you have all the legal documents up to date– At Community Mediation, a commonly occurring theme, at the centre of disputes is “family land”. There is no such thing in Trinidad! One needs to have property passed from one generation to another by having the estate administered. This is a lengthy process and opportunities for ownership for the property to be contested can arise. To avoid this one should ensure that property is formally and legally given from one to another and the documents kept in a safe place, known to all members of the family.

The Community Mediation Services Division can assist with disputes arising out of the bequeathing of property. However we also facilitate family discussions about how land can be distributed for the security and peace within families.