Probate, trust, guardianship and inheritance litigation
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How Do You Make a Valid Will In Washington?

To make a valid will in Washington State, the will must be:

  1. In writing
  2. Signed by the testator
  3. Witnessed


The requirements to make a valid will in Washington are set forth in Washington Rev. Code § 11.12.020.

Who Can Make a Valid Will In Washington?

Any person of sound mind who is at least 18 years old may make a valid will in Washington State.  See RCW 11.12.010.

To be of sound mind to make a valid will, Washington law requires that the testator:

Has sufficient mind and memory to understand the transaction in which he [or she] is then engaged, to comprehend generally the nature and extent of the property which constitutes his [or her] estate and of which he  [or she] is contemplating disposition to recollect the objects of his [or her] bounty.” In re Bottger’s Estate, 14 Wn.2d 676, 685, 129 P.2d 518 (1942).

Signature Requirement For Washington State Wills

To be valid under Washington law, a will must be “signed by the testator or by some other person under the testator’s direction in the testator’s presence.”

If a testator for some reason is unable to so sign the will himself, the testator is permitted to direct another person to sign the will for the testator. Washington Rev. Code § 11.12.030 provides that:

Every person who shall sign the testator’s or testatrix’s name to any will by his or her direction shall subscribe his or her own name to such will and state that he or she subscribed the testator’s name at his or her request: PROVIDED, That such signing and statement shall not be required if the testator shall evidence the approval of the signature so made at his or her request by making his or her mark on the will.

If at all possible, a testator should sign the will himself.  Even if the reason for directing another person to sign has nothing to do with the testator’s mental capacity, a person seeking to overturn the will might use the fact that the testator was unable to sign the will himself as evidence of lack of capacity.

Witness Requirement For Washington State Wills

To be valid, a Washington will must be attested by two or more competent witnesses, by subscribing their names to the will, or by signing an affidavit that complies with RCW 11.20.020(2), while in the presence of the testator and at the testator’s direction or request.

Are Wills Executed In Other States Valid In Washington State?

Yes.  If a will is executed in another state, and is executed in compliance with the law of the place where executed or of the testator’s domicile, either at the time of the will’s execution or at the time of the testator’s death, the will shall be deemed to be legally executed and shall be of the same force and effect as if executed in the mode prescribed by Washington State law.

Are Handwritten Wills Valid In Washington?

Yes.  A handwritten will (known as a holographic will) can be valid in Washington as long as the requirements for a valid will are met.

Does a Washington State Will Need To Be Notarized?

No.  A will does not need to be notarized to be valid under Washington law.  However, a will can be made self-proving, which requires the signatures be made in front of a notary.  Pursuant to RCW § 11.20.020(2):

[A]ny or all of the attesting witnesses to a will may, at the request of the testator or, after his or her decease, at the request of the executor or any person interested under it, make an affidavit before any person authorized to administer oaths, stating such facts as they would be required to testify to in court to prove such will, which affidavit may be written on the will or may be attached to the will or to a photographic copy of the will. The sworn statement of any witness so taken shall be accepted by the court as if it had been taken before the court.

A Washington probate lawyer can make sure that all of the requirements to make a valid will under Washington State law are met.

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