Probate Litigation

Introduction: This Section Focuses on Heirs’ and Beneficiaries’ Rights

The primary focus of this Probate Litigation section is on Decedent’s heirs’ and beneficiaries’ rights, particularly as against Decedent’s Personal Representative. Some initial issues to consider, regarding probate litigation: The Best and Most Capable Person of Ensuring that You Receive Everything that You Are Entitled to Receive Is You. As… Read more

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Questions About Entitlement to Decedent’s Property

In this section, several questions about entitlement to Decedent’s property are answered, such as: Am I entitled to any of Decedent’s property? Does my being Decedent’s surviving spouse or child automatically entitle me to any of Decedent’s property? And, I thought I was entitled to receive property from the Decedent… Read more

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Rights of Decedent’s Spouse or Child

In this section, we examine in further detail, the specific rights of Decedent’s spouse and child. These rights include the right to be appointed Personal Representative, the right to succeed to property, the right to “Elect Against the Will,” the right to a Family Award, the right to Family Support,… Read more

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Rights to Notice & to Be Heard

For you to have the right to involve yourself in a probate case, e.g., to be heard in Court about it, you must be and must remain “interested in the estate.” In this section, we examine who has the right to be heard in a probate case, the notion of… Read more

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Will Issues: Contesting a Will

There are various ways to contest a Will. A Will may be contested based on a lack of formalities, it may be contested based on revocation, and it may be contested based on a “lack of a Testator.” In this section, we explore, in detail, the various ways to contest… Read more

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Objecting to the Appointment of a Personal Representative

Your ability to object to the appointment of a Personal Representative and when you may bring your objection depends on whether or not the Decedent died with a Will. If the Decedent died with a Will, also known as Testacy, then you may object to the appointment of a Personal… Read more

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Bond & Inventory and Appraisement Issues

If the Personal Representative has not posted Bond and you are concerned about the security of the personal property in the estate, or if the Personal Representative has posted Bond and you are concerned that it may be insufficient, then any person interested in the estate may complain at any… Read more

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Obtaining Information About the Estate & Especially Its Readiness to Close

For traditional estates (i.e., “Court intervention” estates), a Personal Representative is required to close the estate within twelve (12) months of their appointment or file a Status Report reporting their actions taken since appointment. For nonintervention estates, any beneficiary who has not received all the property from the estate to… Read more

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Disqualification or Removal of a Personal Representative

A person may be unfit to be, or to remain as, a Personal Representative via two different tools: Disqualification or Removal. If either disqualification or removal is obtained, the person will not be appointed as Personal Representative or, if they have already been appointed, their Letters will be revoked and… Read more

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Objecting to the Declaration of Completion of Probate

To close the probate estate, a Nonintervention Personal Representative is generally required to: File a Declaration of Completion of Probate and, within five days thereafter, Send a Notice of Filing of Declaration of Completion of Probate together with a copy of the Declaration of Completion to each person who remains… Read more

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Personal Representative’s & Attorney’s Fees Issues

Probably no legal issue is the subject of more questions than the fees of the Personal Representative and their attorney. For example: What fees are they entitled to? And how much? Is the fee based on the value of the estate? I think the fees paid are excessive. What can… Read more

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Re-Opening the Estate

As Long as an Estate Remains Open, It May Be Sued Any issue regarding the administration of an estate may be judicially determined by bringing an action under TEDRA. RCW 11.96A.030(2)(b) & RCW 11.96A.080(1). Once the Estate Has Been Closed, Generally It May No Longer Be Sued In general, if… Read more

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TEDRA Petitions

The Washington Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act (“TEDRA”), which became effective on January 1, 2000, significantly changed the statutory dispute resolution procedures for Washington trusts and estates. RCW Chapter 11.96A. In most cases, TEDRA supplements but does not supersede existing procedures for the resolution of disputes in probate estates,… Read more

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Summary: What Are My Primary Rights as an Heir or Beneficiary Regarding the Administration of a Nonintervention Estate?

The primary rights of an heir or beneficiary of a nonintervention estate as against its Personal Representative are: To petition for disqualification of the Personal Representative if they are disqualified from serving as a Personal Representative. RCW 11.28.020 (objections to appointment – testacy); RCW 11.28.160 (cancellation of letters of administration… Read more

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“Undoing” Joint Tenancy Rights of Survivorship After Death

In this section, we explore the answer to the following question: How may the joint tenancy’s right of survivorship be “undone” after their parent’s death, resulting in the asset falling back into the parent’s probate estate and being distributed either under the parent’s Will to its beneficiaries or by intestate… Read more

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Determining Co-Owners’ Interests in Property

The typical situation in which you will need to determine co-owners’ interests in property is the following: Usually: Deed to real property in the names of two or more persons, saying nothing more, such as: In Joint Tenancy (with right of survivorship) As Tenants-in-Common, and perhaps silent as to their… Read more

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