When parents pass, the children are sometimes left with considerable assets to divide among themselves. The emotions of the adult children can cause strife among them as they attempt to honor their parents’ wishes. TEDRA actions are brought when things go wrong in the probate action.
Sometimes, one person has been designated as the power of attorney prior to death, but it appears through bank records and other evidence that this person abused his/her authority in the use of the power of attorney document. At Smythe & Jones we forensically review these records and discover the abuse of authority and then hold the person responsible.
TEDRA proceedings in Washington are a relatively speedy process, approximately 6 months, to obtain an accounting of the estate, and litigate any abuse of authority that occurred prior to death. TEDRA proceedings are supplemental to probate and are only necessary when there is a dispute between the beneficiaries.
TEDRA is an acronym that stands for Trusts Estates Dispute Resolution Act. The court in Washington wants to resolve cases quickly in this area, so many times subpoenaing bank records and reviewing them or having an expert review them is necessary to quickly prepare a TEDRA case.
At Smythe & Jones, we take on TEDRA cases for large estates where the amount in controversy is at least a quarter million dollars or so. The reason is because TEDRA cases can cost upwards of $150,000 to litigate in a six-month time period depending upon the amount of records and experts hired. In many of these cases, but not all, we will partner with other lawyers or financial analysts who we know are excellent at building the entire TEDRA case that Smythe & Jones litigates.
You may wonder what experts are needed and why in TEDRA litigation? Well experts look at things objectively and assist the judge in making a decision because the expert has reviewed thousands of pages of bank records, used their software, and found discrepancies. The judge doesn’t have time to do that, the expert shows the court what he/she has found. Handwriting experts may also be necessary when someone has signed checks for the deceased, both before and after death. Tax experts may also be necessary to assist in determining the tax consequences of various actions. So, experts play a vital role in TEDRA litigation.
No litigation is for the weak at heart. Litigation is gruelling in many aspects: financially, physically and emotionally for the parties. Smythe & Jones becomes your champion, using the law to fighting hard against those who have not complied with the law. While we are ruthless in the process of proving our case with sufficient evidence, we also work very hard to come to a resolution prior to court. The reason why is because in litigation everyone has their own truth. There is the Petitioner’s truth, the Respondent’s truth and the Court’s truth. It is the attorney’s job on both sides to have enough evidence so that the Court’s truth matches their client’s truth. However, no attorney can ever guarantee what the Court will see as truth, so we recommend that whenever possible, the parties take the resolution of their case into their own hands and create a resolution that is within their control and not the Court’s control. It saves time, money, and it truly is the only guaranteed resolution that exists in litigation.
Smythe & Jones attorneys also arbitrate and mediate TEDRA cases.