Recently you and you brother and sister inherited the estate of an aunt who lived in Chicago. All three of you loved your aunt, but even though you all lived in the same city, you had not kept in contact with her in recent years due to career and family obligations. Your aunt’s Last Will & Testament requires that the three of you divide the assets among you any way that you can agree upon within 30 days of her death. However, if you fail to provide her attorney with a written agreement within the 30 days, all of her assets will be given to a charity. The estate consists of the following: (1) about $320,000 in cash and CDs; (2) a 2004 Lincoln Town Car; (3) two houses valued at $360,000 and $ 525,000; (4) all of the furnishings of both houses; (5) an art collection valued at $250,000; (6) season tickets to the Chicago Cubs (behind the home dugout); (7) a large box containing many family photos and slides. The three of you are meeting in six days to try and negotiate a settlement of the estate. In preparation answer the following skills questions:
Skill 2-1: Recognize that before next week’s meeting, preparation is critical to success, and usually includes identifying all tangible and intangible issues that will be of interest to all parties, and then prioritizing those issues, making sure to include some throwaway issues. What preparations do you need to make before the meeting?
Skill 2-2: Should you propose the three of you begin negotiation by adopting ground rules that address the “5 Ws”? Also consider the setting –where should you meet?
Skill 2-3: The initial offer in negotiation could affect the tone and outcome, what will be your initial offer?
Skill 2-4: Anticipate some posturing by your brother and sister. While the three of you get along fairly well, this estate represents a great deal of money for each family. What posturing might you encounter?
Skill 2-5: Decide if you are primarily negotiating a single-issue or multiple-issue negotiation and choose an appropriate strategy. Should you consider a third-party intervention?