Testamentary Capacity in WA State

In the State of Washington, testamentary capacity is a requirement for the execution of a valid will. Having testamentary capacity is another way of describing the soundness of mind required of someone who executes a will.

When does someone have testamentary capacity?

In Washington State, some can have testamentary capacity when the following occurs:

[A] person is possessed of testamentary capacity if at the time he assumes to execute a will he (or she) has sound mind and memory to understand the transaction in which that person is then engaged, to comprehend generally the nature and extent of the property which constitutes his estate and of which he is contemplating disposition to recollect the objects of his bounty.

In Re Bottger's Estate, 129 P.2d 518, 14 Wash. 2d 676 – CourtListener.com.

The court would consider any evidence of the testator's mental or physical condition if "lack of capacity" is used to contest your will. Additionally, they may investigate the physical condition of the testator's will document, as well as the testator's activity to determine if this individual had sufficient capacity at the time he or she executed the will.

When a person's mental or physical capacity is being questioned, the factors and evidence considered for evaluating them would be highly subjective. For that reason, we have decided to refrain from citing real examples for this explanation.

Can someone's testamentary capacity change?

Let's say, for instance, that a senior citizen with dementia is currently having a "fine day" and demonstrating that they have good memory and a clear mind. A court could determine that this individual has sufficient testamentary capacity in this situation - though it will usually only do so after carefully reviewing all the circumstances surrounding the case. It is also possible for someone who has a physical disability to execute a Will even if their speech or thought processes are impaired.

Durable Power of Attorney

The requirements to sign a Durable Power of Attorney differ from the requirements for testamentary capacity. Therefore, a person may be capable of signing a Durable Power of Attorney even if he or she cannot sign a Will.


Most trusts, in their testamentary provisions, are essentially analogous to wills.

As always speak to an attorney first.