To contest a will under chapter 11.24 RCW, a party must file a petition within four months after the will is admitted to probate and personally serve the estate’s personal representative within 90 days. These bright-line deadlines promote the policy in Washington that probate estates should be finalized promptly and efficiently. 

Last year Farr Law Group aggressively defended a will contest brought by a a disinherited heir who, timely filed the case, but failed to serve the papers as required under the statute. Farr Law Group immediately sought dismissal in the trial court arguing that the will contest must be dismissed because the will contestant did not follow the correct procedures. The trial court agreed and dismissed the will contest. 

The will-contestant appealed. 

On appeal, the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, rejecting the will contestant's arguments that substantial compliance is sufficient given the clear deadlines imposed by chapter 11.24 RCW and controlling case law. The Court also awarded the estate its attorney fees on appeal and remanded for further findings related to the fee award at trial court, partially granting the estate's cross-appeal, which argued that the fee award at trial court was insufficient.

The Talmadge/Fitzpatrick firm handled the appeal.

The case is Bostwick v. Brazier, Washington Court of Appeals Cause No. 81774-4-I (10/2021).