As a resident of Washington state who has decided to create a will, it is important to understand what is and isn’t allowed. The creation of a will can be difficult, and the document must comply with statutory standards, or you risk the will being invalid.

FindLaw takes a look at what makes a will valid in Washington state. First, there are some generic requirements that apply across the board for any testators. For example, you must be at least 18 years old at the time you wrote the will for it to be considered valid. You must also be of sound mind, i.e. be to make decisions clearly and rationally in a way that is in character for you.

Next, you must have at least two witnesses present. They should not be receiving anything under the will. They need to watch you sign it, and must sign it — or sign an affidavit attesting to your execution of your Will, as well. No one can sign the will alone; every person whose signature is required must sign in the presence of the others.

In Washington state, holographic (or handwritten) wills can be considered valid, if they meet the same criteria required for all wills. For example, it must be signed by the maker in the presence of two competent, witnesses who also sign the document. Nuncupative (oral) wills are not, except under very specific circumstances for servicemembers. Very small estates may be able to distribute after your death without a Will or court intervention, but not if the estate holds an interest in real estate of any value.

If you are looking into drafting your will, consider contacting an attorney with expertise in this area. Since it can be easy to make a mistake that renders your entire will invalid, it is important to get things done properly. An attorney can help with that.