Washington State Laws on Wills

By Carrie Ferland

Washington governs how a person -- called a testator -- may establish a will by the statutory requirements defined under the Washington Probate Code, found under Title 11 of the Revised Code of Washington. These laws define how a testator must convey, proof and execute his will for the state to acknowledge the document as valid. A testator who fails to execute his will according to these guidelines could subject his estate to state intestate succession laws.

Washington governs how a person -- called a testator -- may establish a will by the statutory requirements defined under the Washington Probate Code, found under Title 11 of the Revised Code of Washington. These laws define how a testator must convey, proof and execute his will for the state to acknowledge the document as valid. A testator who fails to execute his will according to these guidelines could subject his estate to state intestate succession laws.

Basic Requirements

To establish a will in the state of Washington, the testator must be 18 years of age or older and of sound mind. Before executing a will, the testator must understand the implications of establishing an estate plan and have the capacity to make decisions about how her estate will be administered and divided amongst her beneficiaries.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Written Wills

Washington probate law requires, with few exceptions, that testators convey their will in writing, which can be typewritten or written by hand. The testator must sign the very bottom of the document himself -- he cannot simply type his name as his signature -- and at least two disinterested witnesses must be present at the time of signing. Both witnesses must also sign the will in the presence of the testator and each other. In lieu of this, a testator can submit his will for notarization by a notary public, in which case there is no requisite for any additional witnesses.

Holographic Wills

A will written entirely by the testator’s own hand, referred to as a “holographic” will, is exempt from the witness requirement under certain circumstances. Washington law acknowledges the validity of a holographic will executed without two attesting witnesses, provided the surviving family can substantiate the handwriting and signature both belong to the testator and prove the testator intended the document as his actual and final will. Other documents or correspondence referencing the holographic will serves as proof of the testator’s intent, while other sworn or attested legal documents bearing the testator’s signature -- including the last valid driver’s license of the testator -- are sufficient to substantiate the veracity of the testator’s signature.

Nuncupative Wills

Washington law defines a nuncupative as any will not conveyed in writing. This includes oral, videotaped and audiotaped wills. Washington probate law does generally not recognize nuncupative wills. However, the courts acknowledge oral wills from testators employed at sea -- including merchant marines -- which are delivered verbally by the testator to at least two witnesses, who both describe the contents of the oral will, if it is delivered to the court within six months of the testator’s passing. Washington also acknowledges nuncupative wills delivered as the “dying declaration” of an ill testator to at least two witnesses, although the testator’s surviving spouse may move to void the will if it excludes her or disposes of property in which she has a joint and indivisible interest.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
The Format for a Legal Will

References

Related articles

Problems Probating a Will

When a person dies having made a will, it's referred to as dying "testate." Before a testate decedent's estate can be administered in probate court, his will must be admitted. Often, admitting a will to probate goes off without a hitch — the will is accepted as valid and the probate process proceeds. Sometimes, however, problems can arise. Under these unfortunate circumstances, it's generally advisable to consult an experienced estate planning attorney for assistance.

How to Invalidate a Last Will & Testament

A will contains an individual's final wishes. As a result, any attempt to invalidate it must meet a high standard of proof to succeed in court. Further, some wills contain a no-contest clause in which any beneficiary who attempts to contest the will's validity automatically forfeits the share of property bequeathed to him under the will. To challenge a will's validity, you must follow the probate laws of the state handling the decedent's estate.

Washington Law for Legal Wills

The state of Washington does not recognize unwitnessed wills, and only recognizes oral wills in very limited circumstances. It does, however, generally recognize wills that are valid under the laws of other states. An interested person can act as a witness to a Washington will, but only with certain serious consequences for that person's ability to collect under the will.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Types of Last Will & Testaments

Testators can use various types of wills to establish an estate plan. The most prevalent type is the written will, ...

Massachusetts Last Will & Testament

The Uniform Probate Code, or UPC, is a non-compulsory uniform code that defines nationwide standards for establishing, ...

Rules for Wills in Florida

The state of Florida governs how a testator may establish and execute a will under the Florida Probate Code. These ...

California Law on Wills

By establishing a will, you can avoid administration of your estate under California intestate succession laws. ...

Browse by category