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What are the grounds for contesting a will in Washington?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2022 | Estate Administration & Probate |

When someone dies in Washington, their estate administrator distributes their assets among their heirs according to the terms laid down in their will. However, if there are any issues regarding their last will and testament, the court will halt the asset division process and pore over the matter in question. Here are the three main grounds on which the law can allow beneficiaries to challenge the validity of a will.

If the will was not properly executed

For a will to be valid in Washington, it must be typed, signed, and witnessed by at least two people. These two people will also need to sign it. A handwritten will is also accepted as long as it has been witnessed. The court usually denies an oral will unless the value of the property doesn’t exceed $1000, or the decedent was a member of the U.S. army or working on a water vessel when they met their untimely death.

The decedent lacked the capacity to make a will

A testator must be of sound mind and memory in Washington to make a will. This means they must understand the nature and extent of their property, as well as who their natural heirs are. Estate administration & probate will not proceed if they misname their beneficiaries or forget to mention some of their most valuable assets in the will.

Undue influence

Suppose a beneficiary can show that another person used coercion or undue influence to get the decedent to make a will in their favor. In that case, this may be enough to invalidate the will. Coercion may be challenging to prove, as it often happens behind closed doors with no witnesses. However, if you can get evidence, you might stand a chance.

If you want to contest a will in Washington, file a petition with the court four months after the executor opens the probate process. While doing this, be aware of the no-contest clause that might make you miss your potential inheritance if you fail in your pursuit.