Washington: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant state law for Washington. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution

February 2, 2021

If you or a loved one lives in the Evergreen State, there are a lot of important forms, records, services, and state laws you need to know about. Here's a list of the most essential documents you need to prepare your estate for any medical, legal, and end-of-life decisions if you live in Washington.

Essential Washington State Medical Laws & Forms

How to Get Your Medical Records in Washington

HIPAA gives you access to your medical records, but they also impose limits on how and to whom health care providers may release your details. Washington medical records laws state that only the patient can disclose medical records to someone excluding health care providers, officials of correctional institutions, or public health authorities.

Healthcare facilities in Washington State must respond within 15 working days to your medical records request. 

Learn more about your rights when it comes to your medical records

Washington Advance Directive Laws

An advance directive is a general term for a series of legal documents that outline your preferences for medical care if you become incapacitated. These documents typically include:

  • Living Will. Your preferences for treatments in various medical situations
  • Durable Power of Attorney. Durable power of attorney assigns someone the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf
  • DNR Order. This document only takes effect if life-saving measures are needed

The Washington advanced directives helps you discover, clarify, and communicate what is important to you in the face of serious illness. Washington Law states that only an adult with an advanced life-limiting illness can request for the form. However, you need two (2) witnesses and yourself to sign your Washington Advance Directive for it to be considered valid.

Download both the healthcare directive and the durable power of attorney here.

How to Set Up a Living Will in Washington

Not to be mistaken with a will, if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your medical treatment, a Washington living will should guide you. Washington living will requirements contain:

  • Two persons must observe the process of completing the will
  • The witnesses present may not be related to the person or stand to inherit anything from the person

You can set up your living will by filling the Washington Living Will Form.

How to Become an Organ Donor in Washington

Washington residents must be at least 15 ½ years old to sign up for the Washington Donor Registry. You can also register to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor at the DMV.

Essential Washington Legal & Estate Planning Documents

How to Set Up a Will in Washington State

Any person of sound mind over the age of 18 may set up all of their estate with a will. Your will is a legal document that can be changed at any time before your death, so long as you have the capacity.

A legal professional should prepare your will, but you can prepare your own will if you like. According to Washington law, these documents must be signed by two witnesses and notarized by a notary.

Washington State Trust Laws

The Washington Trust Act imposes new reporting and administrative requirements on trustees to provide new disclosure rights for beneficiaries and clarify or establish several trust administration rules. If you are a trustee, you must keep the trustee beneficiaries fairly informed about the trust's administration and all the material facts they need to protect their interests.

Although you are not expected to report annually, to ensure that your fiduciary obligation is fulfilled, you must plan your report sufficiently frequently. It is not necessary to waive this reporting provision in the trust documents. It applies, regardless of when they were formed, to all irrevocable trusts. The Act generally applies to all trusts. Check out more about setting up a living trust in Washington.

Washington Probate & Tax Laws

Probate is the legal process where the assets of the "decedent" are passed to your successors. Probate proceedings are intended to provide a framework for the orderly transfer of the deceased's property while protecting others who, including heirs, trustees, creditors and tax authorities, may have an interest in the property.

The probate laws in Washington do not always require a probate proceeding to be filed after death, irrespective of whether the deceased died with or without a legitimate will. It is a discretionary practice, usually because someone wishes it to be filed, not because the law requires it. Check out Washington Probate Law for more information.

Learn the biggest differences between a will and a trust

Washington Digital Estate Planning Laws

Every well-drafted estate plan should include preparation for your digital properties. With the RUFADA enactment, estate planners feel more assured that the estate plan's digital asset requirements will be implemented.

On June 9, 2016, Washington State adopted Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADA). This law acts as a conduit that gives a personal representative or other trustees the power to request, and the custodian of digital assets may reveal information about digital assets. Professionals in Washington estate planning assist their clients in selecting a fiduciary responsible for handling their estate following their deaths. Electronic information, online banking, online investment accounts, photo galleries, email accounts, and social media accounts are examples of digital assets.

Washington Estate Tax and Inheritance Tax Laws & Rates

Washington is one of 12 states that does have an estate tax. Since 2018, if an estate value is less than the tax-exempt amount of $2,193,000, citizens do not have to file a state estate tax return, according to Washington inheritance laws.

Depending on how far the deduction goes, it will decide what the tax rate will be. It varies from about 10-20%.

How to Get a Death Certificate in Washington

You can obtain Washington state death records as certificates for legal purposes or non-certified informational copies. Here are the latest guidelines you need to get a death certificate in Washington:

  • A certified copy can be obtained only by eligible applicants
  • Applicants are expected to include identity and proof of relation
  • Certificate fee increased to $25 per copy

You can get a death certificate requested electronically in any county in Washington. Finish an online application, provide valid government identification or alternate identification, proof of eligibility documentation and pay applicable fees.

How to Organize Your Most Important Documents

Life can be complicated, no matter where you live. Create your customized account with Pillar and safely scan, store, and even share all of your most important medical, financial, and legal documents from one secure online cloud storage solution so you have everything you need for all of life's biggest moments.

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