Generally speaking, the process to make a will is similar in every state. But, it is the differences that are important; every state, including Washington, has its own laws that detail the requirements for a will to be legally valid. If you fail to meet the specific requirements set forth by the state, the court is likely to reject your will. When you make an online will in Washington, you should make sure that the template is designed for the state. You also want to make sure you fully understand all the legal requirements necessary for a will to be recognized as valid in Washington.
Can I Make a Will Online in Washington?
Yes, you can make a will online in Washington. To do so, use an online will making service. We recommend USLegalWills to make a will online.
Any person who is at least 18 years of age and who is of sound mind may make a will in the state of Washington. Other legal requirements for a will to be valid in Washington are:
- It must be writing.
- The Testator (the person making the will) must sign it in front of two witnesses.
- The two witnesses must sign it in front of the Testator.
It is best if your witnesses are not beneficiaries in your will; Washington has laws that may revoke any provisions left to them.
Currently, if you make an online will in Washington, you must print it out onto hard copy; you and your witnesses must physically sign it. However, beginning on January 1, 2022, you will be able to execute a will electronically in the state of Washington.
Does Washington Require a Notarized Will?
No, it is not required to notarize your will for it to be valid. But it is important to understand what happens when a will is presented to the probate court—first, the will must be validated. The court will call upon the witnesses of the will to testify to the authenticity of it, which can become a complicated situation if neither of the witnesses can be located. To avoid such issues, you can instead make your will “self-proved.”
In order to make your will “self-proved” in Washington, your witnesses have to make a sworn statement before a notary public. By doing this, they are testifying to the validity of your will as if they were doing it before the court itself. Attach the notarized document(s) to your will.
Once your will is considered “self-proved,” the court no longer requires the witnesses to testify, which can help speed up the process of validating your will.
Can I Name an Executor in Washington?
Yes, you can name an executor in your will—made online or otherwise. An executor is the person who handles settling the estate, ensuring that the will is followed. If you do not name an executor in your will, the court will appoint one. However, it is better to name someone in your will. By doing so, you can discuss beforehand what being an executor of an estate entails and prepare this person for the responsibility. You want to pick someone you know well, someone you trust. Choosing someone who is well-organized and able to keep track of details is best.
Here are the requirements for an executor in Washington:
- Must be 18 years old.
- Must be of sound mind.
- Must not have a felony conviction or “any crime involving moral turpitude” on record.
To name an executor who lives out-of-state, there are some specific guidelines in Washington:
- A non-resident executor must post bond and select someone who lives in the county where the estate is being probated to act as an in-state agent—an in-state agent accepts legal documents on behalf of the state.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in Washington?
No, an attorney is not required to make a will. For those with a straightforward will and a relatively simple estate, online will making is a good option. When you make an online will in Washington, make sure that you satisfy all the statutory requirements for a valid will. Use an online will making service that offers state-specific templates.
If you have a complex or large estate, or if you have a complicated will, it is always best to consult an estate planning attorney.
What Types of Wills Are Valid in Washington?
When you make an online will in Washington (or if you make a will any other way), it is valid as long as it meets the statutory requirements.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in Washington?
A will that is handwritten and only signed by the person who made the will is considered a holographic will. Holographic wills often face delays when presented to the probate court; people often fail to include important provisions, and they must be proved authentic.
Holographic wills made in Washington are not considered legally binding as they fail to meet the state’s witness requirement. However, Washington will accept a holographic will if it was made and executed in a jurisdiction that allows them.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in Washington?
Sometimes known as a “deathbed will,” a nuncupative will is an oral will (sometimes left on video). A nuncupative will is generally considered to be an emergency or last resort type of will. Washington does recognize nuncupative wills under certain circumstances and with certain restrictions. Members of the U.S. armed forces and mariners at sea are freely allowed to dispose of property or wages in a nuncupative will.
In order for any other person’s nuncupative will to be recognized as valid in Washington, the following applies:
- The declarant must call upon two witnesses to bear witness,
- It must be made at the time of last sickness,
- It must be reduced to writing,
- It must be proved within 6 months, and
- Widows and heirs-at-law must be informed, allowing them a chance to contest it.
Other restrictions include that it cannot transfer real estate, and it is limited to personal property that does not exceed $1,000.
As a nuncupative will for any general person is very limited in Washington, it is best to have a properly executed written will in place if time and health allow.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in Washington?
A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that specifies medical decisions and end-of-life care instructions. A living will and a last will and testament are two unique documents that serve different objectives. If you become incapacitated, a living will specifies your intentions for medical choices and end-of-life care, whereas your last will and testament specifies how you want your estate distributed and other provisions for after death. A living will is required so that physicians and family members may effectively carry out your desires if you become unable to communicate. You can make both a living will and a last will and testament online. To read more about living wills in Washington, you can go here.
Here is an overview of the general requirements for a living will to be valid in Washington:
- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- You must sign the form in front of two witnesses who are not related to you (witnesses also cannot stand to inherit from your estate). The witnesses must also sign the form.
You can revoke a living will at any time. It is your responsibility to inform your medical providers and your family that you have a living will—you should give copies of it to the executor of your estate, doctors, and any other trusted person.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in Washington?
If an individual dies without a will, the court will appoint a guardian for any minor children and an executor of the estate to pay any debts and to handle the distribution of property. Intestacy laws will then determine what happens to the person’s estate—this becomes a lengthy legal process as the state is divided between surviving family members according to the intestacy distribution laws of Washington. Property is often held up in the probate court process for months (or even years) at a time. And if the court determines you have no surviving family, the state can take ownership of your estate.
If you have minor children, it is extremely important to have a valid will in place. In the event of your death, you want to make sure your children have security—choosing someone to be their guardian provides that, as it means there is a plan in place should something happen to you (especially if the other parent is not an option). Likewise, if you own property and want to distribute it in a specific way, you can only do so by making a will.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in Washington?
In addition to naming an executor for your estate and appointing a guardian for any minor children, you can also include the following in a will in Washington:
- You can appoint a guardian to oversee any property left to minor children.
- You can name someone to care for any remaining pets.
- You can designate who receives family heirlooms and sentimental items.
- You can distribute personal or sentimental items.
- You can leave property or gifts to family or friends.
- You can leave property or gifts to charities or organizations.
What Should Not Be Included in a Will in Washington?
A last will and testament is not the right place for designating medical directives, end-of-life care, or funeral instructions. Usually, when a person dies, the funeral arrangements are made immediately. It is not until after the funeral that the will is read. If any funeral instructions are left in the will, family members may not know about them. And any medical directives or your desires for end-of-life care left in a will are not legally binding.
You must create a living will for medical directives or end-of-life care.
For funeral directions, you do not have to make a formal document. You can simply discuss your wishes with a family member. Though, you can make a document describing your wishes for funeral arrangements that your family can refer to when planning the funeral. Be sure to give copies of this to the executor of your estate and other trusted family.
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in Washington?
While a properly executed will is a legally binding document, you can change or revoke it at any time.
In Washington, you can change or revoke a will by:
- Performing a revocatory act that destroys all or part of your will with the intent to revoke it.
- Ordering someone else to physically destroy it in front of you and two other witnesses.
- Making a new will that states it revokes the old one or that has contradictory terms to the prior will.
After any major life event, you should revisit your will. Life changes like marriage or divorce, birth or adoption of a child, adoption, acquisition of new assets, or relocation to another state or country all warrant an update to your will. If you need to make major changes, you should revoke your old will and make a new one. But if you only need to make small changes, you can add a codicil instead. A codicil is an amendment with those changes, which you attach to your will; you must finalize a codicil with the same formalities as a will.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in Washington?
When you make an online will in Washington, you finalize it by:
- Printing it out.
- Signing it in front of two witnesses, and
- Having the two witnesses sign it in front of you.
To “self-prove” your will in Washington, your witnesses must make a sworn statement in front of a notary public. Attach this to your will.
Be sure to consider these special considerations in Washington:
- Divorce automatically revokes your former spouse as the executor of your estate if you named them such and revokes any language that leaves them property.
We tested multiple online will services to find out which ones produce the best last will and testament. Of all the wills we created—and had our lawyer review—USLegalWills had the best end product. To make an online last will and testament, we recommend USLegalWills.