Estate Planning and Probate in Washington State (Part 2)

In this part of the series of Estate Planning & Probate in Washington State, we will discuss some various nonprobate transfers of property.


Not every asset you own in Washington State will need to be probated. Washington law specifically defines certain “nonprobate transfers” and “nonprobate assets” that are not subject to probate proceedings. A nonprobate asset is defined to mean only the following written instruments or arrangements other than the decedent’s Will:


1. A payable on death provision of a life insurance policy, employee benefit plan, annuity or similar contract, or individual retirement account, unless provided otherwise by controlling federal law;


2. A payable on death, trust, or joint with right of survivorship bank account;


3. A trust of which the person is the grantor and that becomes effective or irrevocable only upon the person’s death;


4. Transfer on death beneficiary designations of a transfer on death or pay on death security, or joint tenancy or joint tenancy with right of survivorship designations of a security (if such designations are authorized under Washington law);


5. A transfer on death, pay on death, joint tenancy, or joint tenancy with right of survivorship brokerage account;


6. A transfer on death deed;


7. Unless otherwise specifically provided in the contract, a contract where payment or performance under that contract is affected by the death of the person; or


8. Unless otherwise specifically provided in the written instrument of transfer, a written instrument of transfer within the meaning of RCW 11.02.091(3), containing a provision for the nonprobate transfer of an asset at death. This includes an insurance policy, an employment contract, a bond, a mortgage or deed of trust, a promissory note, a certified or uncertified security, an account agreement, a compensation plan, a pension plan, an individual retirement plan, an employee benefit plan, a joint tenancy, a community property agreement, a trust, a conveyance, a deed of gift, a contract, or another written instrument of a similar nature that would be effective if it did not contain a provision for a nonprobate transfer at death.


In the next blog post, we will talk about the disposition of your remains when you pass away.