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Clearman v. Clearman – Court of Appeals Div. 2 – Slip Op. 57008-4-II (July 18, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

A daughter of a 100-year-old man filed a vulnerable adult protection order against her sister and sister’s boyfriend for abuse and neglect by refusing medical care for the vulnerable adult and unduly influencing a change in his estate planning. 3 days after the VAPA was filed, the vulnerable adult died. However, the superior court nevertheless granted a protection order and later extended the protection order. The Court of Appeals reversed the superior court, holding that the VAPA was moot after the vulnerable adult died.


Radliff v. Schmidt – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 85041-5-I (July 10, 2023) – PUBLISHED

A couple executed a Community Property Agreement and mirror wills which had different survivorship period provisions to inherit. The Court of Appeals held that both community property agreements and wills are subject to contract interpretation rules regarding ambiguities and where they are executed together, must be construed together to effectuate the terms of both documents. Where there is no patent or latent ambiguity, extrinsic evidence may not be used to construe the documents.


In re the Guardianship of Zerr – Court of Appeals Div. 3 – Slip Op. 39137-0-III (July 6, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

The biological mother of the Individual subject to guardianship appealed the trial court’s order on maintaining the guardianship conditions as entered following the mother’s complaints and request for removal of the guardians and the Court Visitor appointed to investigate her claims. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court and determined that the trial court’s treatment of the mother’s complaint was not an abuse of discretion.


In re the Estate of Kolesar – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 83919-5-I (July 3, 2023) – PUBLISHED

A trial court entered three separate orders on different dates probating will in an estate due to corrections to previous orders. Because none of the orders were “nunc pro tunc” which established a retroactive application of the date of either previous order, the date of the latest order was the effective date under which the four-month statute of limitations for will contests began to run. In addition, proving financial exploitation through undue influence for purposed of a financial abuser disinheritance under Chapter 11.84 RCW requires the petitioner to show more than a reliance on a fiduciary relationship to survive summary judgment dismissal.


Greenlee v. Barnes – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 84374-5-I (July 3, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

Greenlee sued a Decedent’s estate over a breach of a Listing Broker Exclusive Employment Agreement that Greenlee executed with the Decedent in 2019. The Decedent died in 2020 and the Estate rejected the creditor claim Greenlee filed seeking to enforce the Agreement and the Estate sold four properties in the Estate without using Greenlee as a broker for any of the sales. Because the Agreement was entered into before Greenlee was licensed in Washington State as required under RCW 18.85.331, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of her lawsuit against the Estate because the Agreement constituted “real estate brokerage services” and Greenlee needed to be licensed before executing the Agreement in order for it to be enforceable.


Ocak v. DSHS, Court of Appeals Div. 2 – Slip Op. 56862-4-II (May 23, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

DSHS appealed the superior court reversal of a Board of Appeals conclusion that Ocak neglected her adult son because she failed to request certain services for his needs and failed to prevent him from going into the community alone without proper supervision. The Court of Appeals affirmed the superior court’s reversal of the final order finding neglect because the son’s elopement into the community despite Ocak’s unsuccessful attempts to prevent it from occurring did not mean that she disregarded the consequences she was actively trying to prevent.


In re the Estate of Ronald D. Haave, Sr. – Court of Appeals Div. 2 – Slip Op. 56887-0-II (May 23, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

Serving as Personal Representative, the son of the Decedent withheld funds under a long-term care insurance policy that was ultimately determined in arbitration to belong to the Decedent’s committed intimate partner. The Court of Appeals upheld a judgment for enforcement of the arbitration award against the son and his marital community, stating that the son’s liability to the Decedent’s committed intimate partner for unlawful withholding of the policy proceeds was a breach of fiduciary duty sounding in tort liability, allowing recovery against the son’s marital community property.


Erickson v. Stenman, et. al. – Court of Appeals Div. 2 – Slip Op. 57044-1-II (May 16, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

Erickson sued a mortgage company that foreclosed on her father’s property. The father died during the foreclosure proceedings and probate was opened for the father. However, the probate was later closed due to lack of prosecution and the property was never transferred to Erickson in probate. As a result, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Erickson’s lawsuit against the mortgage company for lack of standing due to her not actually having title to the property through actual transfer in probate, leaving her with only a contingent future interest until that transfer occurred.


In re the Guardianship of Mitchell – Court of Appeals Div. 3 – Slip Op. 34236-1-III (May 9, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

A sanctioned Certified Professional Guardian and the company that she was employed by appealed the attorney fees and costs orders associated with the contempt judgments entered against them. The Court of appeals dismissed their appeals as moot with regard to the contempt judgments and affirmed the trial court’s order denying them their request for attorney fees and costs.


In re the Estate of Cohen – Court of Appeals Div. 2 – Slip Op. 56662-1-II (May 9, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

The son of the Decedent appealed the trial court’s order removing him as Personal Representative of the Estate and appointing a third-party neutral as successor PR. The Court of Appeals affirmed both the removal and the appointment of a third-party neutral instead of the other son of the Decedent due to both sons possessing a conflict of interest that would prevent them from serving as PR.


Hays v. Hays Elliott Properties, LLC – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 83999-3-I (May 1, 2023) – PUBLISHED

The Decedent’s company filed timely creditor claims against his estate that were rejected by the Personal Representative. One of the Decedent’s children intervened in the eventual lawsuit filed by the company against the estate. The trial court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the company against the estate, and dismissed a number of defenses and counterclaims that the Decedent’s son attempted to raise on behalf of the Estate. On appeal, the Court of Appeals dismissed the son’s appeal for lack of standing as an unaggrieved party under RAP 3.1 and because the partial summary judgment order was not a “final judgment” subject to an appeal as of right under RAP 2.2(a).


Marynard v. Estate of Helen Beardslee Maynard – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 83714-1-I (May 1, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

The daughter of a Decedent filed multiple lawsuits in the probate of her mother’s estate. Upon the dismissal of these multiple lawsuits, the trial court made findings that the lawsuits had driven the probate estate into a nightmare without any appropriate justification. Following the closure of probate, the daughter filed a 19-count civil suit against the personal representative and his wife that was dismissed as frivolous and resulted in her being found to be a vexatious litigant. The Court of Appeals affirmed.


Spalding v. Pennington – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 84361-3-I (May 1, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

A will contest filed by the daughter of the Decedent against the Estate was dismissed at the RCW 11.96A.100(8) initial TEDRA hearing without any findings of fact or conclusions of law entered by the trial court. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a hearing on the merits under RCW 11.96A.100(8) violates CR 52(a)(2)(c) requiring findings and conclusions in connection to a de facto trial on the substantive merits of the parties’ claims.


In re the Estate of Robert C. Cannon – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 84093-2-I (April 24, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

A creditor appealed the trial court dismissal of his creditor claim as time-barred and unenforceable. The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the trial court’s conclusion that the breach of the underlying breach of contract claim occurred in 2008, making the 6-year statute of limitations for a written contract lapse in 2014. Thus, the creditor claim was properly dismissed for the time-bar of the underlying claim, even if a timely creditor claim was made after the Decedent’s probate was open.


Calabrese v. DSHS – Court of Appeals Div. 3 – Slip Op. 38854-9-III (April 13, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

DSHS appealed the trial court reversal of a Board of Appeals order concluding that Calabrese abused her mother through the improper use of a mechanical restraint. Because the child lock that was used to keep Calabrese’s 2-year-old son from opening the mother’s door did not restrain the otherwise already immobile mother to her room, the Court of Appeals affirmed and concluded that DSHS failed to prove the child lock was used against a vulnerable adult.


Schireman v. Williams – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 83541-6-I (March 27, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

Schireman, as Personal Representative of an estate, sued Williams, the attorney hired to represent Schireman as PR, for legal malpractice for his failure to property respond to a TEDRA Petition with arguments supporting a claim that a house within the estate was separate property, causing the Estate to lose a share of the house to the Decedent’s spouse as community property under a premarital agreement. The Court of Appeals reversed the jury verdict on negligence because the property characterization is a question of law, not fact. The effectiveness of the premarital agreement on the characterization of the house as community property meant that any argument Williams could or could not have made would not change the outcome. Therefore, there was no proximate cause for negligence.


In re the Estate of Mark Lester Besola – Court of Appeals Div. 2 – Slip Op. 56775-0-II (March 21, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

Second appeal of a will contest litigation resulting in the equitable award of attorney fees and costs. One of the beneficiaries that supported the will contest without being one of the actual petitioners appealed the trial court’s reduction in the fees and costs awarded to her on the basis that her participation was unnecessary, despite the trial court finding that it was equitable for fees and costs to be awarded to her. The Court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s finding that awarding more than $500,000 to a non-will contestant who stood to receive nothing in invalidating the will was unreasonable.


In re Jeremy Denniston Settlement Preservation Trust – Court of Appeals Div. 3 – Slip Op. 38466-7-III (March 16, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

A trust beneficiary filed a TEDRA Petition to force a change of venue over the trust monitoring proceedings over his trust from Walla Walla County where the Trustee resided, to Benton County where the beneficiary resided. The venue for the trust must be changed to a location with the strongest connection to the trust by the trial court within four months of the first notice of proceeding pertaining to the trust or for good cause shown under RCW 11.96A.050(2). Otherwise a change of venue is entirely within the discretion of the trial court. RCW 11.96A.050(8).


Macgrath v. Gibbons, et. al. – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 38474-8-III (March 6, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

A pre-UGA guardianship petition was filed in 2019 by the sister of a Respondent needing 24-hour care seeking appointment of a guardian on claims of protecting the Respondent from their mother. The Respondent was previously subject to a guardianship in California with the mother as Guardian. However, that matter was dismissed due to the mother’s failure to register her move to Washington State. The uniform declaratory judgment act does not allow a collateral attack on court orders in a guardianship proceeding when the guardianship is still active in the superior court.


In re the Estate of Hein – Court of Appeals Div. 3 – Slip Op. 38474-8-III (February 9, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

The Decedent died with a surviving spouse, but left all of her property to her only child from  a prior relationship under the terms of her will. The surviving spouse petitioned the superior court for an award of family support under Chapter 11.54 RCW. While it is permissible for the trial court to independently weigh a petitioner’s need for a family support award, the statute does not expressly permit the trial court to weigh the needs between the petitioner and an adult child of the deceased because the factors require consideration of the needs of a decedent’s minor children.


In re the Estate of Mark Lester Besola – Court of Appeals Div. 2 – Slip Op. 56725-3-II (February 7, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

A sister filed a will contest to invalidate a 2018 will signed by her brother, alleging among other claims, fraud by the inheriting beneficiaries. Subsequent to the summary judgment, the will was invalidated following a bench trial ruling due to fraud committed by the other beneficiaries, but not the brother. Even though the will contestant ultimately prevailed in proving that the will was fraudulent, the trial court determined that the original attorney fees and costs award remained justified because the record failed to link the dismissed beneficiary to the wrongful creation of the fraudulent will.


In the Matter of the Estate of Huehnerhoff – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 83504-1-I (January 30, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

A TEDRA Petition alleging a breach of fiduciary duties and a declaratory judgment that over the invalidity of a codicil was dismissed for a lapse of the applicable statute of limitations by the superior court. This decision was reversed on appeal. The will contest statute of repose (limitations) applies only to the testamentary document that is admitted to probate under RCW 11.24.010. Otherwise, the validity or invalidity of a testamentary document examined for possible probate is addressed under RCW 11.20.020, which potentially extends the time for such a dispute all the way up to the close of the estate.


In the Matter of the Vincent E. Halverson Trust – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 83968-3-I (January 30, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

The son of a trustor who established three irrevocable trusts that were each registered in Alaska sued the trustee to demand an accounting under TEDRA. Because the award of attorney fees and costs under RCW 11.96A.150 are equitable in nature, courts are not required to apply the lodestar method to determine an award of fees. The trial court does not abuse its discretion as long as the findings of act and conclusions of law are sufficient to support the fee award. The court of appeals is unlikely to overturn a trial court’s determination of the reasonableness of fees and costs because review of a fee award is “highly fact-specific and the reasonableness of such an award depends entirely on the circumstances of the case.”


In re the Guardianship of Hicks – Court of Appeals Div. 3 – Slip Op. 38391-1-III (January 17, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

A mother of an autistic child filed for guardianship over her child when he turned 18-years old, claiming he was a vulnerable adult as a result of his medical condition. Based upon a waiver by the mother to the appointment of a Court Visitor, a trial court correctly dismissed the guardianship on the basis of available information without the CV report.


Losie v. Kaneen – Court of Appeals Div. 1 – Slip Op. 82993-9-I (January 9, 2023) – UNPUBLISHED

A brother serving as trustee of his parents’ irrevocable family trust was sued by his sister for failing to diligently liquidate and make final distributions of the trust for more than two years after their last parent passed away. RCW 11.98.085 allows the trial court to find liability for the greater of either the amount required to “restore the value” of the trust to what it had been had the fiduciary breach not occurred or the profit made by the trustee as a result of the breach. However, prejudgment interest is only payable on a “specific monetary bequest,” not on a “general legacy” such as a residuary interest.