On a recent Saturday morning, while driving my 21-year-old manual Volkswagen Golf north on I5, I encountered typical stop-and-go traffic while passing through downtown Seattle. Then, I began having issues with the “go” part of that equation. My car wouldn’t get into gear, forcing me to start the vehicle from third gear rather than first to avoid being stalled in the middle of the freeway. As this driving faux pas continued, I noticed an acidic, burning smell. I tried to pretend the smell emanated from someone else’s car – but it indeed came from my Golf.

While I thankfully arrived home without aid from a tow truck, I knew that my Golf was no longer safe to drive. Since the book value of my seasoned Golf was $1,241, I decided it was time for a new car.

That decision, in turn, brought me face-to-face with the current global challenges of low vehicle inventory and inflated prices. The type of car I prefer, a manual compact hatchback, sadly appears to be going the way of the typewriter and cassette player. I considered purchasing an electric vehicle, mindful of Washington’s new law regarding electric vehicle registrations. However, long waitlists for electric vehicles, among other reasons, caused me to abandon that approach.

As I struggled over the limited choices at hand by endlessly searching on Google for new ideas and serially calling and texting my busy friends and family for their input, I realized that I couldn’t find an ideal solution to my dilemma because the perfect solution did not exist given current market conditions. My situation is analogous to the anguish experienced by many of our clients seeking to resolve their probate or trust disputes via our Washington Trust and Estates Dispute Resolution Act (TEDRA). When estate heirs or trust beneficiaries disagree with how the estate or trust is being administered, RCW 11.96A.220 provides that “[i]f all parties agree to a resolution of any such matter, then the agreement shall be evidenced by a written agreement signed by all parties.” Often parties to the dispute become frustrated during the negotiation process, believing they are being shortchanged because the settlement agreement – known as a Nonjudicial Dispute Resolution Agreement – is not entirely reflective of their wishes and ideas of fairness. Settling a matter tends to be a give-and-take process, and the parties often feel like they have given much more than they have taken. Parties may come to realize that there is no ideal solution to the dispute, and their attorney is helping them reach the best solution possible given the circumstances.

Buying a car and settling an estate or trust dispute are both complicated processes. Although my firm cannot assist you with your new vehicle options, we would be happy to assist if you need help working through a Nonjudicial Dispute Resolution Agreement.

This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.

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