Minimum Requirements for a Valid Will

In the State of Washington, any person who is of sound mind and age eighteen or older may make a last will and testament.1

At a minimum, the document itself must be:

  • In writing;
  • Signed by the testator (or by someone else at the testator’s direction and in the testator’s presence) in the presence of two competent witnesses; AND
  • The two witness must either sign the will OR sign an affidavit, in the presence of a notary, that swears the facts needed to prove that the will belongs to the testator.2

Note that these are only the absolute minimum requirements that a document must have before a court will accept that it is a will and agree to enforce it. Drafting a proper will requires doing much more than just meeting these minimum requirements.

A will can be handwritten (known as a “holographic will”) as long as it meets the requirements outlined above. Oral wills, also known as “nuncupative wills,” are not valid in Washington, except under very specific circumstances for servicemembers of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine.3

A foreign will (a will made outside of the State of Washington) may be valid if it meets these minimum requirements or if it was 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.”4