A last will is a legal document that shows how you, the testator, want to distribute your property after your death. A will written in Washington state must follow Washington law. If the procedures are not followed, the will may be invalidated after your death.
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Who Can Make a Will
Under Washington law, a will can be written by anyone of sound mind who is at least 18 years old. A person of sound mind must know what she is doing when making the will.
Requirements of a Will
A will must be in writing, rather than verbal, in order to be valid in Washington. You must sign the will, or someone else can sign it for you at your direction and in your presence. The will must also be signed by at least two competent witnesses, and they must sign the will within your view. A competent witness is someone who could testify about what he signed. The witnesses do not need to sign the will at the same time.
What to Include in a Will
You should dispose of all of your personal property and real estate in a will. You can give specific property to beneficiaries, such as giving a car or a painting, or give your entire estate to someone, such as your spouse. You should give the remainder of the estate -- also called the residue -- which is whatever is leftover from the estate. This catches any items that you forgot to bequeath in the will, and prevents those items from being given to someone through intestate succession, which means Washington law dictates who gets the property rather than the will.
Personal Representative and Guardian
You should appoint a personal representative, also called an executor, to execute your will after your death. The executor must petition the court for probate, file tax returns and pay bills. If you do not appoint a personal representative in your will, the court will appoint someone as your representative. If you have minor children, you should appoint a guardian for your children in case they are still minors at the time of your death.