Estate Planning Attorneys Helping Families in Washington Draw Up Wills
A common question among laypeople in any state is whether or not that state recognizes a handwritten will. The law on this issue can vary significantly from state to state. In the state of Washington, handwritten wills may be accepted for probate, provided the handwritten will meets all other requirements under Washington law. That is to say a paper writing, purporting to be the Last Will and Testament of a Washington resident, will not be disqualified because it is not formally typed or otherwise printed.
All Washington Wills Must Be Properly Executed
No matter what type or form is used for the Washington will, it must be executed in accordance with the law. This means that the person making the will must be at least 18 years of age, be mentally competent, be able to understand the will’s contents, and be free of undue influence from another. Generally speaking, the will should be dated and signed by the person making it. If the testator – the person making the will – is unable to sign for himself or herself, someone else may sign for the testator, if it is done at the testator’s request and in his or her presence.
The Will Must Also be Appropriately Witnessed
In order for the will to be offered for probate, it must be signed by two mentally competent witnesses. Those witnesses are not required to have read the will. They need not know its provisions. They do need to understand, at least generally, that they are serving as witnesses to the signing of the document, however.
Under RCW 11.12.020, a typed or printed will may be accepted by the court without the signatures of the witnesses, if the will is accompanied by affidavits from the persons indicating that they were in fact witnesses to its signing. Note, however, that a handwritten will must contain the actual signatures of the witnesses. While the testator of any will, including a handwritten will, can utilize witnesses who are also beneficiaries, this is generally considered unwise. It may lead others to assume the witnesses had an undue influence on the testator.
What About Holographic Wills?
Some persons refer to handwritten wills as “holographic” wills. “Holographic” means that the will is totally in the handwriting of the testator. In some states, a holographic will need not be witnessed. As stated above, all Washington wills must be witnessed. To the extent that another’s signature or handwriting is within any part of the will, it would not be considered “holographic.” The important thing to remember is that there are no “magic words” to describe a valid will. It must be created and executed (and witnessed) according to Washington law.
Handwritten Wills Often Cost More Money Than They Save
Some Washingtonians decide that they can avoid the modest cost involved in having an attorney prepare a valid will for them; they write one out in their own hand. Legal experts often say that the money saved is insignificant to the expense that the person’s heirs may have to undertake to seek clarity by the court as to what the testator meant. It’s generally much better to seek the counsel of a skilled, experienced attorney. Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S. has more than 30 years of combined experience providing both individuals and businesses with quality legal services throughout the Pacific Northwest. We have helped clients with both simple and complex issues related to wills and estate planning, and would be pleased to share our experience with you. We pride ourselves on designing the simplest, most effective solution for your legal issue. For assistance with a will, a trust, or any sort of estate planning issue, contact us on the web or call our office at 253-272-2997.