Probate should be avoided if possible. If it cannot be avoided, a Will that can be submitted to Probate without communicating with beneficiaries first has a higher risk of disputes than a Probate without a Will that requires all beneficiaries to agree (about the Executor, bond requirement, and non-intervention powers, and sign affidavits in advance of Probate). This is the best source ofonline information about probate in Washington.
If you believe that you absolutely must have a Will with two witnesses’ notarized signatures, then finding Counsel who is willing to sign with witnesses in person with pens and an ink notary stamp and using the King CountyWill Repository into which Wills of living people can be kept for One Hundred (100) Years for Twenty ($20) Dollars is the best option.
Below is the language in my Trusts that addresses post-pandemic Wills.
It is my wish that any Personal Representative (gender neutral term for Executor) appointed in an Intestate (without a Will) Probate, honor the wishes in my Trust, and use appointment by the Court to fund the Trust and distribute as directed. The Washington Legislature has essentially already executed a Will for every resident of Washington in the form of the Intestacy Statute. Under the Statute your next of kin are your heirs. So, your children share equally automatically. You don’t need a Will for that. The Personal Representative (formerly known as Executor) must live in the County where your property is located, so if you have named ineligible people in your Will the beneficiaries need to consent by Affidavit, which is the same result as if you didn’t have a Will. Your Estate is much safer when all of the beneficiaries communicate before a Probate Petition is filed. Not having a Will forces this to happen. A Will does not require the Personal Representative to consult beneficiaries in advance.
The Uniform Electronic Wills Act became effective January 1, 2022. However, as a result of the pandemic, all signing at MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC is electronic and unwitnessed (no ink signatures or live or electronic witnesses). Since an electronic will may become invalid after execution if a “Qualified Custodian”(not you or your heirs) has not been in possession of the Will from the date of execution to the date of death, I have decided not to execute Electronic Wills. A Will is not required for Probate and there are some advantages to Probate without a Will. The main reason for having a Will is if you wish to disinherit a child, which is rare. You should not need a Probate if you record Transfer on Death Deeds and use Beneficiary Designations.
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