TEDRA Action and Agreements
TEDRA statutes are found in the Revised Codes of Washington: RCW Chapter 11.96A.
There is much to read in the TEDRA Statutes; a summary of the most relevant procedures is:
- Parties in dispute can meet independently, through a mediator or arbitrator, and come to an agreement. IF the parties agree to call that agreement a TEDRA agreement, then that agreement is enforceable in a Court of Law with all the benefits provided to parties as if a TEDRA lawsuit were filed and a Court Judgment obtained.
- If Parties cannot independently agree, outside of filing a TEDRA lawsuit, then, well, one must be filed.
- Upon filing a TEDRA lawsuit (also known as a “petition”), parties may seek, again, a mediator who will possibly be more apt to resolve the dispute. Sometimes time and a change of view is all it takes.
- If mediation does not resolve the matter, then parties can seek binding arbitration.
- The Arbiter’s decision in the binding arbitration is appealable to the Superior (Trial) Court of Washington.
TEDRA Agreements are binding, provided “all interested persons” sign the Agreement and the Agreement adequately represents and protects their interests. See RCW 11.96A.220 & 240. Interested persons include many people, so be sure to include them all. RCW 11.96A.030(5) See also, In re Estate of Kuest, 158 Wn.App 1007 (2010).
If properly drafted and executed, a TEDRA Agreement can be enforced in the Courts without having to file another lawsuit. That saves time and money. RCW 11.96A.230. It also allows the IRS, which recognizes Court Orders, to recognize the Agreement for tax purposes.
Caution: If privacy is a concern, a memorandum of the TEDRA Agreement is sufficient for filing.
TEDRA Agreements are best obtained with legal counsel at the helm. Drafting agreements is what lawyers do; so trusting the professionals with these important matters is wise. That way the agreements will not miss the important details, e.g. tax obligations of the parties or estate and how future disputes may be resolved.
If you prefer to mediate without a lawyer present, be careful. The mediator does not represent you, even if the mediator is a lawyer. The mediator is not permitted to guide you in the law or in your legal decisions. However, in that case, it is essential to vet the mediator for having expertise in the area of your issue, if resolution is truly desired. The lawyer-mediator will be able to ask the right legal questions that should allow the family to know the legal issues presented and to, then, make decisions. Any such agreement should, of course, be reviewed by legal counsel prior to execution.
Local Attorney-Mediators and Arbitrators await to serve in these disputes at The Mediation & Arbitration Center.