Can Lawyers in the State of Washington Notarize Wills via Videoconference?

April 11, 2020

Given COVID-19 and social distancing, most Spokane lawyers have been compelled to temporarily close their offices. Many of them do as much work as possible from remote locations, or if they do go to the office, it must be closed to the public. In either case, our Spokane wills and estate lawyers will often rely on videoconferences with potential clients, existing clients and other attorneys. What comes to issue are the State of Washington’s reqirements in the context of the execution of estate planning documents.

Will Requirements in the State of Washington

The general rule is that any valid will in the State of Washington must be in writing. Aside from that, here are the other requirements:

  • The testator (maker of the will) must be at least 18 years of age, of sound mind, know that he or she is signing their last will and testament and know who they are giving their property to after their death.
  • The will must be dated and signed by the testator in the presence of two or more competent and preferably disinterested witnesses at the testator’s direction or request. If the testator is unable to sign the will, somebody else can sign it for him or her at the testator’s request. This is not a preferred practice.
  • The witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator

The Self-Proving Affidavit

The will of a Washington resident need not be notarized for purposes of validity, but notarization is recommended. Washington law does permit the testator to attach what is commonly known as a self-proving affidavit to the will. This affidavit must be signed by the testator and the witnesses, and it is required to be notarized. The affidavit ordinarily saves time and legal expenses in probate court.


In the State of Washington, the purpose of a notary public is to witness the signing of an important document, verify the identity of the person signing it, the voluntariness of the signing and capacity of the individual at the time of signing. How does this work during this interim of social distancing? Although most notaries witness document signing in person, our Spokane notary can notarize a will and any other advance planning documents for a testator online in a videoconference.

The Governor’s Proclamation.

The State of Washington had previously passed a remote notarazation statute that was to take effect on October 1, 2020.  Given the state of emergency caused by COVID-19, Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed that the remote notarization statute is now effective until close to the end of April 2020. If the governor’s emergency order is extended, it’s likely that the effectivity of the remote notary statute will be extended too.

Contact a Spokane Estate Planning Lawyer Today.

Wills were historically executed, witnessed and notarized at an attorney’s office. Technology has changed that arrangement. Now, the testator, witnesses and notary need only gather around two computers and have pens and proper identification with them. We can draft your will and any other advance planning documents pursuant to your wishes and forward them to you electronically. When you’re ready to sign off on your document or documents, just let us know, and we’ll arrange for a mutually convenient time. Then, we’ll make sure that your will and any other documents are executed and notarized in compliance with applicable Washington law.

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