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Thompson Howle Vaughn has a busy litigation practice in areas affecting the elderly and people with disabilities.


Thompson Howle Vaughn has a busy litigation practice in areas affecting the elderly and people with disabilities and other barriers that make it more difficult for them to access the court system. Our attorneys have experience litigating
  •  Will contests
  •  Contested guardianships and guardianship disputes
  •  Trust disputes
  •  Probate disputes
  •  Vulnerable adult actions
  •  Breach of fiduciary duty cases
  •  Cases brought under the Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act (TEDRA), RCW 11.96A
  •  Cases brought under the Slayer and Abuser Statute, RCW 11.84

Thompson Howle Vaughn attorneys have state, federal and appellate court experience. Our attorneys have served as pro tempore court commissioners in the King County Superior Court, have extensive experience as court-appointed guardians ad litem in litigated cases, and serve as mediators in contested probate, trust, and guardianship cases. Because of the firm’s litigation and mediation experience, we effectively help clients avoid litigation.

Examples of appellate cases:

Washington State Supreme Court:

  • Estate of Haviland (Haviland II), 177 Wn.2d 68 (2013) (interpreting slayer statute amendments relating to financial exploitation of vulnerable adults).
  • Estate of Fleming, 143 Wn.2d 412 (2001) – successfully represented the administrator of a probate estate on issues relating to the inheritance rights of biological parents who had terminated their parent-child relationship.
  • Washington Coalition for the Homeless v. DSHS, 133 Wn.2d 894 (1997) – successful class action on behalf of homeless children to enforce State welfare agency’s duty to have coordinated comprehensive plan for services.
  • In re Guardianship of Hayes, 93 Wn.2d 228 (1980) – successfully represented amici curiae Legal Advocates for the Disabled in a contested guardianship action that addressed the power of the courts to authorize the sterilization of developmentally disabled persons.

Courts of Appeal:

  • Estate of Haviland (Haviland I), 162 Wn. App. 548 (2011) (will contest invalidating will for undue influence).
  • Estate of Benson, 160 Wn. App. 1014; 2011 Wash. App. LEXIS 514 (unpublished; successfully defended Estate and surviving spouse against partnership claims and established that estate was community property).
  • Estate of Smaldino, 151 Wn. App. 356, 212 P.3d 579 (2009) – successfully represented beneficiary of decedent’s estate in breach of fiduciary duty and contempt action against former personal representative resulting in judgment of $448,809 against the former fiduciary plus an award of attorneys’ fees.
  • Estate of Mauser, 2008 Wash. App. LEXIS 735 – obtained judgment of over $200,000 against former trustee for breach of fiduciary duty and conversion.
  • Estate of Whitehead, 2007 Wn. App. Lexis 1827 – successfully represented the adult children of a homicide victim in preventing the victim’s estate from being used to fund the killer’s criminal defense.
  • In re Custody of Halls, 126 Wn. App. 599 (2005) – successfully enforced the right to appointed counsel in civil contempt proceedings involving enforcement of parenting plans.
  • In re Estate of Kessler, 95 Wn. App. 358 (1999) – successfully represented the personal representative in a will contest claiming fraud, undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity.