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.

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.

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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

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. Start My Estate Plan
Types of Last Will & Testaments


Related articles

Is a Hand-Written Notarized Will Legal?

Your will can direct the distribution of your property after your death, name someone you trust to manage your estate and even nominate a guardian for your minor children. But your will can't do any of that if it isn't valid in your state. Generally, a handwritten will is just as legally valid as a typed or printed will as long as it meets your state's standards.

What Makes a Will Legal & Binding?

When executed wholly and correctly, a will is a legal document that supersedes any other document, contract or verbal conveyance the testator may have established during her lifetime. This is because a will is a type of one-sided contract, defining the wishes and instructions of the testator as she herself describes them without any outside or undue influence. However, there are multiple facets of a will that establish it as a legal, binding document.

What Is the Meaning of Last Will & Testament?

A last will and testament is a legal document that conveys the final wishes of a decedent for the administration and division of his estate after his passing. Wills are used to avoid state guidelines for intestate succession by providing instructions on how to carry out these wishes to the executor appointed by the decedent within the will. Historically, the distinction between “will” and “testament” was quite specific: the word “will” was used to when referring to the decedent’s real property, while “testament” conveyed the dispositions of his personal property. In modern times, the distinction is largely ignored, and the term “last will and testament” is merely used as a formal title for the legal document itself, which most now refer to simply as “will.”

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

Related articles

California Law on Wills

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

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 ...

The Format for a Legal Will

While probate laws defining the format for a valid will vary from state to state, most states acknowledge at least two ...

State of Maine Laws Regarding Last Will & Testament

A last will and testament sets out the wishes of its writer regarding the arrangement of his property after his death. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED