Washington Last Will and Testament Law

Wills and Estates – Last Will and Testament Law – Washington

Note:    This law summary is not intended to be all inclusive of the Washington law of Will, but does include basic and other provisions.

Who may make a will. Any person of sound mind who has attained the age of eighteen years may, by last will, devise all his or her estate, both real and personal. RCW 11.12.010

Requisites of wills.
(1) Every will shall be in writing signed by the testator, and shall be attested by two or more competent witnesses, by subscribing their names to the will, or by signing an affidavit that complies with law
(2), while in the presence of the testator and at the testator’s direction. RCW 11.12.020

Foreign Will. A last will and testament, executed in the mode prescribed by 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, shall be deemed to be legally executed, and shall be of the same force and effect as if executed in the mode prescribed by the laws of this state. RCW 11.12.020

Nuncupative wills
Nothing contained in this chapter shall prevent any member of the armed forces of the United States or person employed on a vessel of the United States merchant marine from disposing of his wages or personal property, or prevent any person competent to make a will from disposing of his or her personal property of the value of not to exceed one thousand dollars, by nuncupative will if the same be proved by two witnesses who were present at the making thereof, and it be proven that the testator, at the time of pronouncing the same, did bid some person present to bear witness that such was his will, or to that effect, and that such nuncupative will was made at the time of the last sickness of the testator, but no proof of any nuncupative will shall be received unless it be offered within six months after the speaking of the testamentary words, nor unless the words or the substance thereof be first committed to writing, and in all cases a citation be issued to the widow and/or heirs at law of the deceased that they may contest the will, and no real estate shall be devised by a nuncupative will. 11.12.025.

Revocation of will — How effected — Effect on codicils.

(1) A will, or any part thereof, can be revoked:
(a) By a subsequent will that revokes, or partially revokes, the prior will expressly or by inconsistency; or
(b) By being burnt, torn, canceled, obliterated, or destroyed, with the intent and for the purpose of revoking the same, by the testator or by another person in the presence and by the direction of the testator. If such act is done by any person other than the testator, the direction of the testator and the facts of such injury or destruction must be proved by two witnesses.
(2) Revocation of a will in its entirety revokes its codicils, unless revocation of a codicil would be contrary to the testator’s intent. RCW 11.12.040

Revocation of later will or codicil

(1) If, after making any will, the testator shall execute a later will that wholly revokes the former will, the destruction, cancellation, or revocation of the later will shall not revive the former will, unless it was the testator’s intention to revive it.

(2) Revocation of a codicil shall revive a prior will or part of a prior will that the codicil would have revoked had it remained in effect at the death of the testator, unless it was the testator’s intention not to revive the prior will or part.

(3) Evidence that revival was or was not intended includes, in addition to a writing by which the later will or codicil is revoked, the circumstances of the revocation or contemporary or subsequent declarations of the testator.

Affidavits of attesting witnesses. Any 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. RCW 11.20.020

Interested witness — Effect on will.
(1)An interested witness to a will is one who would receive a gift under the will.
(2) A will or any of its provisions is not invalid because it is signed by an interested witness, however, there is a presumption that the gift was a result of fraud unless there are two other witnesses. RCW 11.12.160

Incorporation by reference. A will may incorporate by reference any writing in existence when the will is executed if the will itself manifests the testator’s intent to incorporate the writing and describes the writing sufficiently to permit its identification. In the case of any inconsistency between the writing and the will, the will controls. RCW 11.12.255

Dissolution or invalidation of marriage.
(1) If, after making a will, the testator’s marriage is dissolved or invalidated, all provisions in the will in favor of or granting any interest or power to the testator’s former spouse are revoked, unless the will expressly provides otherwise. Provisions affected by this section must be interpreted, and property affected passes, as if the former spouse failed to survive the testator, having died at the time of entry of the decree of dissolution or declaration of invalidity.  Provisions revoked by this section are revived by the testator’s remarriage to the former spouse. RCW 11.12.051

Separate writing may direct disposition of tangible personal property — Requirements.

(1) A will may refer to a writing that directs disposition of tangible personal property not otherwise specifically disposed of by the will other  than property used primarily in trade or business. Such a writing shall not be effective unless:

(a) An unrevoked will refers to the writing,
(b) the writing is either in the handwriting of, or signed by, the testator, and
(c) the writing describes the items and the recipients of the property with reasonable certainty.

(2) The writing may be written or signed before or after the execution of the will or trust and need not have significance apart from its effect upon the dispositions of property made by the will or trust. A writing that meets the requirements of this section shall be given effect as if it were actually contained in the will or trust itself, except that if any person designated to receive property in the writing dies before the testator or grantor, the property shall pass as further directed in the writing and in the absence of any further directions, the disposition shall lapse and, in the case of a will, RCW 11.12.110 shall not apply to such lapse.

(3) The testator or grantor may make subsequent handwritten or signed changes to any writing. If there is an inconsistent disposition of tangible personal property as between writings, the most recent writing controls.

(4) As used in this section “tangible personal property” means articles of personal or household use or ornament, for example, furniture, furnishings, automobiles, boats, airplanes, and jewelry, as well as precious metals in any tangible form, for example, bullion or coins. The term includes articles even if held for investment purposes and encompasses tangible property that is not real property. The term does not include mobile homes or intangible property, for example, money that is normal currency or normal legal tender, evidences of indebtedness, bank accounts or other monetary deposits, documents of title, or securities. RCW 11.12.260.

Inside Washington Last Will and Testament Law