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Common Estate Disputes

Oct. 6, 2021

Settling a decedent's final affairs and distributing assets to inheritors usually involves a lot of complexities. After the death of a loved one or during the estate administration process, disputes and conflicts often arise between surviving family members. In some cases, the estate may be administered by an incompetent executor who isn't acting in the best interest of the estate. According to a recent survey by EstateExec, about 19% of participants claimed perceived executor misconduct during the estate settlement process. Regardless of how thorough an estate plan can be, disputes may still arise.A couple argue with another person over a document

The Law Offices of Robert Taylor-Manning is dedicated to providing knowledgeable legal guidance and reliable representation to clients in estate administration matters. Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning is available to discuss your unique circumstances and enlighten you about your possible dispute resolution options.

As an experienced Washington State estate planning attorney, he can fight diligently to protect your rights and your family's best interests and ensure that your deceased loved one's estate is executed in accordance with their exact wishes. The firm proudly represents clients throughout Kennewick, Walla Walla, Richland, and Pasco, Washington, as well as Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding communities.

What Is an Estate Dispute?

An estate dispute occurs when family members, beneficiaries, or other relatives disagree with the interpretation of the deceased person's wishes or how the executor is administering the estate. An estate dispute, conflict, or contest may occur following the death of a loved one or during the estate administration process.

Common Estate Disputes

Some common estate planning or estate administration disputes include:

  • Disputes over property distribution

  • Disputes regarding the validity of a will

  • The lack of testamentary capacity

  • Undue influence or signs of coercion

  • Conflicts with the executor or personal representative

  • Breach of fiduciary duty

  • Issues involving sudden incapacitation or disability

  • Tortious interference with inheritance

  • Rivalries among siblings

  • Second or later marriages of the decedent

  • Failure of the personal representative to provide an accounting

When estate disputes arise, finding a way to settle them amicably and fairly is crucial. An experienced attorney can help you understand your dispute resolution options.

Remedies for Estate Disputes

Below are some remedies that may be applied to resolve estate planning disputes:

Removal of the Executor

Executors and personal representatives are expected to perform their duties ethically and with due diligence. In a dispute involving the executor, removing and replacing the personal representative may be the ideal option. According to Washington Revised Code Section 11.68.070, a personal representative may be subject to removal if he or she:

  • Has breached a fiduciary duty

  • Has exceeded the personal representative's authority

  • Has abused the personal representative's discretion in exercising power

  • Has otherwise failed to execute the trust faithfully

  • Has violated a statute or common law affecting the estate

  • Has wasted, embezzled, or mismanaged the property of the estate


Mediation can be used to resolve matters more amicably, especially when confidentiality is required. It requires that all parties involved in the estate dispute come together to discuss a probable resolution. A third party serving as the mediator can help facilitate or negotiate a possible compromise.

Settlement Meeting

This involves organizing a settlement meeting between the parties involved, including family members, heirs, beneficiaries, and other loved ones, to resolve the issues. During the settlement meeting, everyone will come together to have discussions about what they are willing to do to settle the dispute.


In the event that the estate dispute cannot be resolved through mediation or during the settlement meeting, litigation may be an alternative. A private judge or jury will intervene to help resolve the estate issue through the court system. Litigation may result in the redistribution of property or monetary damages being awarded to the party who experienced financial loss.

A knowledgeable attorney can enlighten you about the benefits of each dispute resolution option and determine the best course of action to remedy the situation.

How Legal Counsel Can Help

Estate disputes usually involve several complexities with huge ramifications. Unfortunately, such estate disputes can result in legal disagreements and deepen rifts among loved ones. In the event of such disagreements, mediation, litigation, a settlement meeting, or removal of the executor are among the possible remedies. An experienced estate planning attorney can help review your unique circumstances and enlighten you about your dispute resolution options.

Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning has the experience and resources to assist and guide clients involved in estate planning disputes. As your legal counsel, he can assess your unique situation, help you understand your available options, and determine the best approach to resolve the estate dispute. Using his extensive legal understanding, he will advocate diligently for your legal rights and offer you the comprehensive legal guidance you need to navigate critical decisions.

Contact the Law Offices of Robert Taylor-Manning today to schedule a case assessment. Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning can offer you the detailed legal counsel and strong advocacy you need to navigate important decisions. The firm proudly serves clients throughout Kennewick, Walla Walla, Richland, and Pasco, Washington, as well as Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding communities.