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Revoking a will in Washington

People in Seattle are encouraged to create an estate plan early on in their adult lives. At the same time, they are also told to revisit that plan as their circumstances change. Often, you may find yourself party to an estate whose terms (at least those stipulated in what is perceived to be your family member or friend's will) run contrary to what the decedent told you directly. In such a case, there may be an updated will indicating those wishes. When faced with this scenario, many have come to us here at Riach Gese Jacobs PLLC asking whether or not their loved one's initial will was sufficiently revoked. 

Washington state law recognizes that one might change their opinions on how they want their assets distributed, yet it also is geared to prevent people from trying to challenge the terms to an estate without merit. Therefore, Section 11.12.040 of the Revised Code of Washington clearly outlines how a will can be legally revoked. 

If your loved one presents a subsequent will, then any terms of the initial will that the language of the second one revokes (either expressly or through inconsistencies) are thus considered invalid. The second will can either revoke the first one either in whole or in part. In the case of the former, any codicils attached to the initial will might also be revoked. 

If your family member or friend wants to send a clear signal to others that their will has been revoked, the law also considers the following actions as sufficient to invalidate a will: 

  • Burning 
  • Tearing 
  • Obliterating or otherwise destroying

Such an action should be performed in the presence of witnesses. 

More information on revoking a will can be found here on our site. 

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
7331 196th Street, SW
P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Phone: 425-329-7857
Phone: 425-776-3191
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