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Understanding a Washington state will contest

On Behalf of | May 22, 2024 | Estate Planning |

One of the principal purposes of executing a will is to ensure that a person’s personal assets are distributed pursuant to their wishes after they die. Unfortunately, even the most carefully crafted will can contain unintentional omissions that may anger potential heirs who have been omitted.

On other occasions, the omission of an heir was intentional on the part of the testator (the persona making the will), and that person may be angered by the omission. In both cases, the omitted heir has only one option: commencing a lawsuit known as a will contest to contest the validity of the will in a court trial.

Beginning a will contest

A petition contesting the validity of a will must be filed in the court having jurisdiction within four months after the probate or rejection of the will. The contest petition must be filed with the probate court within the four month deadline; service upon other parties or the personal representative is not effective to satisfy the deadline.

Grounds for invalidating a will

In Washington, a will can be declared invalid if it was not signed by the testator or witnessed by two adults as provided in the statute. The will can also be declared invalid if the testator was the object of undue influence by a person who benefited from the will as drafted. A will may also be declared invalid if a person who benefited under the will used fraud to influence the testator.


If the will or a portion thereof is proved to be invalid, the court may declare the entire will to be invalid or merely declare that the challenged portion of the will is invalid. The court’s order may determine what remedies remain for the persons who challenged the will.

Will contests are complex and difficult cases. The assistance of an experienced attorney is virtually essential to success in the litigation.