Is a Handwritten Will Legal in Washington State?

By Anna Assad

A will contains your last wishes, directions for the distribution of your property to your loved ones and the name of your executor, the person who will oversee your estate after your death. You may type or write out your will by hand in Washington, but all of the requirements under state law must be met.

Proper Execution

You must be at least 18 years old to make a will in Washington. The document must be signed by you. You have to be mentally competent and able to understand your will's provisions. If you are improperly influenced or pressured into making your will, the document may be invalidated in court after your death. Section 11.12.020 of the Revised Code of Washington permits another person to sign the will for you if you are unable to do so, but the signing must be at your direction and in your physical presence.

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Witnessed

Your will must be signed by two mentally competent witnesses in Washington, but witnesses do not have to read the will or have any knowledge of your provisions. A handwritten will is still valid even if signed by interested witnesses – persons who benefit under the will – but using a beneficiary as a witness may be viewed as a conflict of interest after your death. A will with both handwritten and typed sections may be treated as an entirely handwritten will, depending on what sections are handwritten and the court's decision on the matter.

Designated Beneficiaries

A will has to clearly provide for disposal of your property in Washington. You may name any person, business, charity or other organization as a beneficiary under your will, but the recipients must be identified by name or relation to you. If your handwriting is not legible in any provisions of the will, the court may decide your intentions during probate, the legal proceeding used to validate your will and settle your estate.

Foreign Will Exception

A handwritten will that is not witnessed may be valid in Washington if you made the will while you were a resident of a different state where such wills are valid. However, the will must meet all other requirements as set forth under the laws of the state where the document was executed.

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References

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Self-Proving Will Statutes in New York

Writing a valid will ensures that your property is divided according to your wishes. If you fail to make a will, or if you do not sign it properly, the state authorities will make those decisions on your behalf. To be legally valid, a will should be signed and witnessed in accordance with state laws. A self-proving will contains a certification that the will has been properly executed and makes the probate procedure more straightforward. Article 3 of the New York Code sets out the laws relating to signing wills in the state.

Are Homemade Wills Legal in Texas?

Texas does not require you to have an attorney draft your will, so you can write one yourself at home or complete one online. However, your homemade typewritten will must meet all the same formalities as if your will had been drafted by an attorney, and an online legal services provider can help you meet these formalities. Texas will also allow handwritten -- or holographic -- wills, but they come with inherent disadvantages.

Can a Person Write Their Own Will & Then Have It Notarized?

In this age of technology, writing out a will by hand may not be the norm, but it is a perfectly acceptable alternative to typed or printed wills. The key to making an effective handwritten will is knowing your state laws regarding whether witnesses are required and, if so, how many.

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