When a loved one passes away, disputes over the distribution of assets may arise, straining relationships and leading to drawn out court proceedings. In 2000, the enactment of the Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act ("TEDRA") brought significant changes to the way that dispute resolution procedures are handled for trusts and estates in Washington.

If you ever have a dispute regarding a trust or estate that you’re unable to resolve, you could file a TEDRA petition to reach a resolution in a timely and efficient manner without litigation. TEDRA is used to resolve a wide range of disputes relating to Wills, trusts, and estates, such as the following:

* The interpretation of Wills and administration of estates;
* The possible reformation of a Will or Trust Agreement;
* The validity or existence of a Will;
* Claims of a surviving spouse or child who is not provided for in a Will;
* Third-party claims against an estate
* The validity of the transfer of assets prior to death; or
* Intestate succession without a Will.

TEDRA has given lawyers a clear framework for managing conflicts. TEDRA is intended to allow expeditious, complete, and final decisions to be made in disputed trust, estate, and non-probate matters. TEDRA provisions can help you resolve disputes through mediation, arbitration, and agreement.

First, the parties may meet voluntarily to discuss their differences. If they reach an agreement, they can write and enter into the agreement before the court. Parties to a TEDRA petition can easily reach a voluntary, non-judicial resolution of trust and estate matters by entering into an agreement signed by all parties. A TEDRA agreement is a legally binding contract that governs disputes between interested parties. The agreement can be kept confidential from the public as well as successor beneficiaries.

If the parties cannot come to an agreement, they can negotiate through TEDRA mediation and arbitration. An interested party can commence TEDRA mediation or arbitration by filing a summons and petition, identifying the dispute and seeking relief. In mediation, the parties negotiate a resolution with the help of a trained mediator. If mediation fails, a party may file and serve a notice of arbitration on all parties involved. In arbitration, the parties involved must submit their arguments to an arbitrator, who then issues a decision regarding the resolution of the dispute. Any party may appeal the arbiter’s decision to the court.

If you are considering filing a TEDRA petition, give us a call at 253.858.5434. Although you don’t need a lawyer to enter into a TEDRA agreement, a lawyer can help ensure that your interests are adequately represented and protected. Including all necessary provisions in a TEDRA agreement is crucial to preventing problems and future litigation.