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Is a Will in Washington State required to be notarized to be legal?

Bothell, WA |

My wife was an alcoholic. After I divorced her the next day she went on line and did a will splitting her house of our jointly owned house between my daughter and her brother. The copy I have does not show a notary stamp.

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

Wills do not need to be notarized.

This posting is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. For more information, please visit


In WA, there is no requirement that a will be witnessed by a notary.

RCW 11.12.020 (Requisites of wills — Foreign wills) provides:

(1) Every will shall be in writing signed by the testator or by some other person under the testator's direction in the testator's presence, 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 RCW 11.20.020(2), while in the presence of the testator and at the testator's direction or request: PROVIDED, That 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.

However, many attorneys in WA do use notaries to witness the signatures of the witnesses of the will to make a self-proving affidavit that the witnesses were present at the signing of the will.

Often, the will would not be admitted into probate until decades after the signing. By that time, something may have happened to the witnesses to make locating them difficult. For examples, the witnesses may have died, moved away, lost mental capacity, refused to have anything to do with the testator's estate.

Your former wife can do whatever she wants with her property. You do not get a say in what she does with her share of the jointly owned property.

If she is now dead and her will provides that your daughter and her brother get her share of the house she owned with you, those two are now co-owners of the house with you unless the deed between you and the wife has a right of survivor clause that made the property entirely yours. (Without the self-proving affidavit, the witnesses to the will must be tracked down to sign an affidavit now certifying that they witnessed the signing of the will.)

You should review the specific facts with your attorney to find out your legal options.


Can't do any better than the statutory answer.

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


Attorney Nguyen has provided you with a solid answer. One question I have relates to the titling of the house and your divorce agreement. That is, it is curious that you refer to the house being owned "jointly" and then note the terms of her will. You may wish to retain counsel to review this matter. Good luck to you.

This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. I am licensed in Connecticut and New York and my answers are based upon the law in those jurisdictions. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if I were to review a client's file and have the opportunity to interview the client. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to retain an attorney in your jurisdiction with respect to any legal matter.

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