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Who inherits your estate if you do not have a will?

On Behalf of | Aug 28, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Writing a will is one of the most basic components of an estate plan. However, according to a survey by, a senior living referral service, nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults do not have a will.

What happens to your estate if you die in Washington state without a will?

Intestate succession rules

If you die without a will in Washington state, the intestate succession rules determine who inherits your estate. Who gets what part of your estate depends on who your surviving relatives are.

When you have a spouse

If you have a surviving spouse, your spouse will get the largest share of your estate. The exact share depends on whether you have surviving children, grandchildren or parents.

If you have no surviving children, grandchildren or parents, your spouse inherits the entire estate; otherwise, your spouse inherits three-fourths of the estate, and your other heirs get an equal share of the remaining estate.

When you have children but no spouse

If you have children but do not have a surviving spouse, your children will each receive an equal share of your estate. If any of your children have died, their share of the estate goes to their children.

When you are unmarried without children

If you do not have a surviving spouse, children or grandchildren, your estate passes to your parents. If only one of your parents is living, that parent receives the entire estate. If both parents are alive, then they split your estate equally.

Succession rules for siblings and other relatives

If you die without any surviving spouse, children, grandchildren or parents, then your estate may pass to your siblings or other surviving relatives. If the state cannot locate any surviving relatives, your estate will pass to the state of Washington.

While the state has a process to distribute your assets if you die without a will, creating a will and taking other estate planning steps provides peace of mind that your estate will pass to who you want it to.


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