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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan


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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Is a Handwritten Last Will & Testament Legal in Florida?


Related articles

A Self-Made Last Will & Testament in Oregon

If you're an Oregon resident, you can execute a valid self-made last will and testament, provided you adhere to the state's laws concerning will formalities. If you don't execute your will according to Oregon's prescribed formalities, your will could end up being declared invalid. If that happens, your property is then divided among your heirs according to Oregon's laws of intestate succession.

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.

How do I Create a Basic Will in Maine?

If you are a resident of Maine, unless you create a will, your assets will be distributed after your death according to the laws of intestacy contained in Part 1 of Title 18-A, Article 2 of the Maine Revised Statutes. A basic will in Maine can be made by anyone over 18 years of age. It must be in writing, and must be signed by the person making the will and at least two credible witnesses.

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

Related articles

Probate Court Requirements for a Last Will & Testament

Your Last Will and Testament must meet the probate court requirements set forth in your state's laws; otherwise, your ...

Are Holographic Wills Legal in the State of Tennessee?

A holographic will is a will that is written by hand instead of printed or typed. The state of Tennessee generally ...

Notarizing a Will in Texas

By writing and signing a will, you specify how you want your property distributed when you die. After death, the law ...

Illinois Laws on Wills

A valid will can nominate someone to manage your estate and detail how your property should be distributed when you ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED