The Nassau County Bar Association (NCBA) has chosen Melissa Negrin-Wiener, elder law attorney and partner at Cona Elder Law, elder law firm in Melville, to serve on its Mediation Panel of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Tribunal.
After going through a rigorous screening process by the NCBA judiciary committee, Melissa has been approved to mediate cases for the tribunal. She has completed the required 40 hours of mediation training at the New York Peace Institute, along with additional hours of advanced elder and family mediation training through Elder Decisions and sponsored by the NYS Bar Association and Pace University School of Law.
With the growing number of serious disputes related to elder care issues including where a loved one should live and/or receive care, who should handle finances, how should assets be protected, who should inherit, etc., mediation is a valuable and viable alternative to help the parties reach a mutually agreeable solution quickly and cost effectively that might otherwise be litigated in the courts via guardianship proceedings or estate litigation.
"Sparked by the recession and an increase of family feuds over money, 25 percent of our elder law cases were litigated last year," says Melissa. Ninety percent of the contested cases could have been avoided by mediation, reducing the expense by about 75 percent.
Most mediation matters take three to six sessions costing an average of a few thousand dollars. Litigation can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. If the case goes to trial, the cost can even run several hundred thousand dollars.
In addition, mediation can preserve family relationships instead of tearing the family apart, often irreparably after all dirty laundry is aired. By allowing each person to communicate in a non-adversarial format, the mediator guides the family toward their making decisions that are acceptable to everyone.
"For issues involving seniors, it's important to choose a mediator who is well versed in elder law and has experience with all types of family crises," explains Melissa. For example, a mediator working with a family that is arguing over which sibling will make financial and health care decisions for a parent should be knowledgeable regarding powers of attorney, health care proxies and guardianship proceedings.
At Cona Elder Law, Melissa manages the government benefits department while concentrating her practice in Medicaid planning, asset protection planning, disability matters, guardianships, estate planning and Veterans benefits. She is a State Certified Court Evaluator and Counsel to Guardian and incapacitated persons and is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Melissa received her Juris Doctor from Hofstra University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Politics and Law from Binghamton University.
Cona Elder Law is recognized as a leading elder law and estate planning firm on Long Island. The firm was ranked the #1 Elder Law firm by Long Island Business News for 4 consecutive years (2012 – 2015) and was a finalist in the 2015 HIA Business Achievement Awards. The firm provides creative advocacy and cutting edge planning strategies and has been featured in many publications including: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, L.I. Business News, Investor’s News Daily, USA Today, The Daily News, The New York Post, Kiplinger’s, Reader's Digest and many others. Cona Elder Law attorneys have appeared as guests on WNBC-TV, WABC-TV, CNN-fn, News 12, WLNY News 55 and many radio stations including WOR, WCBS AM, WBAB and WFAN.