The Comprehensive Guide to Probate, Trusts, Estate Planning, and Inheritance Litigation

Who Are Next Of Kin In Washington?

Next of kin of a decedent under Washington law generally means the persons nearest in degree of blood surviving the decedent, and are the following people in the following order:

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Grandparents
  6. Aunts and uncles

Do Next Of Kin Inherit From An Intestate Washington Decedent?

If a resident of Washington state dies without a will (intestate), then the next of kin heirs inherit any assets of the probate estate.

Whether or not status as next of kin entitles a person to inherit depends on the other survivors of the decedent, as follows:

Survivors of Decedent

Share of Intestate Estate

Spouse only

100% to spouse

Children, no spouse

100% to children

Parents, no spouse, no children

100% to parents

Siblings, no parents, no spouse, no children

100% to siblings

Spouse and children

-100% of community property to spouse, and ½ of separate property;

-Other ½ of separate property to children

Spouse and parents

-100% of community property to spouse and ¾ of separate property;

-other ¼ of separate property to parents

Spouse and siblings, no parents

-100% of community property to spouse and ¾ of separate property;

-other ¼ of separate property to siblings

Grandparents, no parents, no spouse, no siblings, no children

Estate divided between paternal and maternal grandparents

Aunts and Uncles, no other survivors

Estate divided between paternal and maternal aunts and uncles

Remember, a next of kin heir only inherits assets if there are assets in the probate estate.  If the Washington decedent had assets in joint bank accounts, accounts with beneficiary designations, or jointly-held property, then there might not be any intestate probate assets to inherit.  See the Probate and Non-Probate Assets Chart.

Can A Washington Next of Kin Serve As Personal Representative of the Estate?

A Washington next of kin is sometimes entitled to serve as the personal representative of a decedent’s estate.  Pursuant to RCW 11.28.120:

Administration of an estate if the decedent died intestate or if the personal representative or representatives named in the will declined or were unable to serve shall be granted to some one or more of the persons hereinafter mentioned, and they shall be respectively entitled in the following order:

 

(1) The surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner, or such person as he or she may request to have appointed.

 

(2) The next of kin in the following order: (a) Child or children; (b) father or mother; (c) brothers or sisters; (d) grandchildren; (e) nephews or nieces.

The statute sets forth the next of kin entitled to serve, and in what order, should the surviving spouse, registered domestic partner, or such person as he or she may request to have appointed fails to obtain appointment.

Washington’s 120 Hour Survival Requirement

Washington state has a survival requirement in order for a next of kin heir to inherit from a decedent’s intestate estate.  Pursuant to RCW 11.05A.020,

[I]f the title to property, the devolution of property, the right to elect an interest in property, or the right to exempt property, homestead, or family allowance depends upon an individual’s survivorship of the death of another individual, an individual who is not established by clear and convincing evidence to have survived the other individual by one hundred twenty hours is deemed to have predeceased the other individual. This section does not apply if its application would result in a taking of intestate estate by the state.

The survival requirement is part of Washington’s Uniform Simultaneous Death Act.