No matter how large or small your estate, it is important to consider creating a last will and testament. In Washington, you can opt for a predefined will template, prepare a hand-written will or have one prepared for you by a professional. Anyone who is 18 years of age or older, and has not been found incompetent by the court, is eligible to create a will. If you are at a place in your life where you feel that it is beneficial to create a will of your own, it is important to know the process involved and what does or does not make a will valid in Washington.
Do Some Advance Planning
Plan it out before you begin. To simplify the process of creating a will, you will want to determine several important factors ahead of time. Make a list of all of your assets, including bank accounts, stocks, bonds, pension and retirement plans; and insurance policies. Also take into consideration how you want to distribute your property, what gifts you plan to bequeath and to whom.
Look at the people in your life and determine also who is the best person to act as the executor or trustee of your will. It's best to check with that person before making it official.
Expert Help Can be Valuable
Consider consulting with an attorney. Depending on the complexity of your estate, having a lawyer will benefit you in making informed decisions by providing you with the legal knowledge to ensure that you prepare everything properly. If you have remarried since you had children, professional advice is especially important.
Creating the Document
The will must be typed or printed, dated and signed, and you must have two legally competent witnesses who must each sign the will. Witnesses should not be beneficiaries, however interested parties – people who benefit from the will – may sign the will without invalidating it. However, they will have to be able to prove that they did not influence you in preparing the will before they can be given their legacy, so it is much better to have witnesses who are not named in the will.
Handwritten wills, also known as holographic wills, are not valid unless properly witnessed. You can download and print the necessary forms from sites that specialize in legal forms on the Internet, but be sure to use a form tailored for Washington's laws.
Affidavits of Authenticity
Verifying the authenticity of your will to help pass it through probate after you are deceased. To "self-prove" your will, both you and your witnesses must swear to the authenticity of the will in an affidavit before a notary. The affidavit is notarized and attached to or included in the will. Place the document in an area that is protected but will be accessible by your executor upon your death, such as a bank safety deposit box or an at-home security box. Leave instructions so your executor can easily locate your will when necessary.
Wills made in other states that are in accordance to that state's laws are valid in Washington.
Mai Bryant is a Northern California writer who specializes in writing about health-related topics, fashion and relationships. She began writing online in 2005 but has freelanced privately for more than 10 years. Bryant's eclectic professional background as a medical technician, a licensed cosmetologist, copywriter and event planner allows her to write with authority on numerous topics.