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WA-Probate > Probate-Litigation > Re-Opening the Estate
Any issue regarding the administration of an estate may be judicially determined by bringing an action under TEDRA. RCW 11. 96A.030(1)(b) & RCW 11.96A.080(1)
In general, if a probate estate has been closed, it may not be re-opened, for example, so that its Personal Representative may be sued for breach of fiduciary duty. RCW 11.96A.070(2)
An estate may be re-opened so that:
discovered estate property may be inventoried and distributed. A decree of
distribution is final as to status of property included in it, but it is not
determinative of property not so included. Estate of Price, 53
Wn.2d 393 (1959), rev. denied 128 Wn.2d 1012 (1996). If a Personal Representative omits property from the
Inventory & Appraisement, such omission is not res judicata and
binding. Laughlin v. March, 19 Wn.2d 868 (1944).
Re-Opening the Probate to Include
Property Omitted from the Inventory.
may be sued by persons who failed to receive proper notice of its opening or
In Westhagen v. Harby, 78 Wn.2d 934 (1971), the Personal Representative alleged that she and her brother were Decedent's only heirs, ignoring five in Norway and one in Germany, none of whom received notice of the beginning of probate or of its distribution at closing. The Court held:
|Reasonable investigation "would have readily revealed plaintiffs relationship to and interest in the estate ...." and entitlement to notices. Plaintiffs "were denied procedural due process. Such a deprivation ... render[s] the decree of distribution void." At pages 941-42. "Such a decree is void and does not vest title in anyone. [Citations omitted.] Such probate and estate administrations are subject to attack [that] is without time limitation." At pages 944-45.|
In Estate of Walker, 10 Wn. App. 925 (1974), where no notice was sent to 16 $1,000 legatees, the Court held that the jurisdictional defect renders the decree of distribution voidable, not void --- the Court having jurisdiction over those who appeared or otherwise received proper notice --- but that a decree of distribution is subject to collateral attack by those not receiving notice.
In Estate of Little, 127 Wn. App. 915 (2005), where no notice was sent to any heir, the Court held that the estate could be re-opened unless the PR could show the heirs' names and addresses were not reasonably ascertainable through the exercise of due diligence.
It may be sued for fraud or concealment of assets by the Personal Representative. Meryhew v. Gillingham, 77 Wn. App. 752 (1995). The statute of limitations for a fraud action is three years after discovery. RCW 4.16.080(4)
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