Washington Law for Legal Wills

By Joseph Nicholson

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.


A will executed in the state of Washington must be in writing and must be signed either by the person making the will, or by someone else via his express instructions. Two witnesses to the execution must either sign their names to the will or execute a notarized affidavit. Unless the will expressly states otherwise, all portions of the will making gifts to a spouse or domestic partner are automatically revoked upon dissolution of the marriage or domestic partnership.

Interested Witnesses

An interested person--someone who is entitled to receive a gift under the terms of the will--can act as a witness to the will. Unless there are two other disinterested witnesses, however, the probate court will start from the rebuttable presumption that the interested person received her gift by duress, menace or undue influence. This means the interested person has the burden of showing she did not receive the gift by illicit means. If the interested person fails to rebut the presumption, she cannot receive more under the will than she would have if there had been no will.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Foreign Execution

Washington will recognize any will executed in a foreign state that was valid at the time it was executed, if the testator was domiciled in that state when the will was created. It will also recognize wills that were valid in the state in which the testator was domiciled at the time of his death. Such wills are enforceable only to the degree to which they would be enforced in the state where they were legally executed.

Military Nuncupative Wills

Though Washington does not generally recognize oral wills--called nuncupative wills--its laws do make one major exception. Any member of the U.S. armed forces or person employed on a merchant marine vessel can dispose of up to $1,000 of property by oral will under certain conditions. The oral will must be witnessed by two persons who must testify to this effect within six months of the will’s formation, and the will must have been spoken under fear of death.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Maryland Laws Regarding Wills & Power of Attorney


Related articles

What Is a Legal Will in Texas?

A legal will in Texas is one that satisfies the requirements of the Texas Probate Code, especially sections 57 to 71. These Texas statutes describe who can make a will, what can be done with a will and the process for making a will valid. A will can be revoked under Texas law by the creation of a subsequent valid will or codicil, or by the testator destroying the physical copies of the will. And, though not required, a will can be deposited with the clerk of the testator's county of residence for safekeeping during his lifetime.

Is it Legal to Handwrite a Will in Minnesota if You Get it Notarized?

A handwritten will may also be known as a holographic or olographic will. Some states recognize a handwritten will as valid even if it is not witnessed. In Minnesota, however, all wills must be in writing, signed by the testator and witnessed by at least two people who meet the minimum requirements for witnesses under Minnesota law. Without two witnesses, a handwritten will is not valid even if it is notarized, according to the Minnesota Probate Code.

Can a Power of Attorney Sign a Will?

A power of attorney grants one person the legal authority to act on behalf of another for certain purposes, which are usually stated in the document granting power of attorney. However, a person with power of attorney cannot take some actions on behalf of another, including signing the other person's will on her behalf.

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

Related articles

What Is an Agent Under a Power of Attorney for Health Care in California?

A power of attorney for health care is a legal relationship where one person, known as the agent, makes medical ...

Is a Notary Needed for a Will to Be Legal?

The requirements of a valid will are determined by state law. Usually a will is subject to the laws of the state in ...

Does Child Support End When the Child Graduates From High School?

Graduation from high school may or may not end your obligation to pay child support. It depends on two main factors, ...

Law on the Last Will & Testament in Iowa

Iowa accepts wills made in other states and countries as long as the requirements of that state or country are met. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED