What is a tangible personal property list?
This is a specific list attached to a will. Think of this as a gift list. RCW 11.12.260(1) refers to a "writing that directs disposition of tangible personal property not otherwise specifically disposed of by the will or trust other than property used primarily in trade or business." Tangible items are typically those that can be touched, held, or felt.
What items may I include on this list?
RCW 11.12.260(3) states that tangible personal property refers to "articles of personal or household use or ornament," such as:
This list must describe items and who receives the item(s) with reasonable certainty. This means you must be specific in how you describe the item.
According to the Washington state law, items such as the following do not constitute tangible personal property:
How do I create this list?
Yes, you can name a charity as a beneficiary in your will. Before you do so, here are some helpful pointers to ensure the process goes smoother after you pass away.
Identify the charity
Research the charity. Ensure that the charity's mission is in lines with your own values. When was the charity established? Will the charity be easily located by your personal representative after you die?
Name of the charity
Make sure the name you have on file is the actual name of the charity. Has the name changed over the years? If you have already named a charity in your will, double-check that the charity still exists or that its name has not changed.
Identify the Amount or Gift
Consider how much and what you want to give to the charity. Does the gift consist of real estate, cash, or a percentage of your estate?
Contact the charity
After you determine which charity you would like to name in your will, you can reach out to the charity to ensure that you have all the necessary details. For example, if you would like to gift real property, double-check with the charity that it can accept the gift of real property that you intend to leave it.
Your agent is the person you name in your power of attorney document. This person will have the power to manage financial or healthcare matters on your behalf. Sometimes a power of attorney document will refer to an attorney-in-fact instead of an agent. These are two different terms for the same position.
A personal representative is the person you name in your will to manage your estate after you die. The personal representative performs several tasks on behalf of your estate, including talking with your heirs, determining the value of your estate, and distributing your estate's assets. A personal representative might also be referred to as an executor. The terms personal representative and executor are interchangeable.
The Dividing Line
The difference between an agent and a personal representative is when an agent and a personal representative can act. Agents have the power to manage financial or healthcare matters when you are alive but are incapacitated or unable to make decisions about your finances or healthcare. Personal representatives act only after your death. Stated differently, death is the dividing line delineating when agents and personal representatives act. Whatever authority and power your agent has ends with your death. Meanwhile, your personal representative has the power to act only after your death.
If a person passes away without making a will, this person (the decedent) is said to have died intestate. The property will be distributed according to the state's intestacy laws.
In Washington state, RCW 11.04.015 deals with the distribution of real and personal property when a person dies intestate. According to the statute, the decedent's surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner receives the community property. The statute outlines how much of the decedent's separate property the surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner receives. This is based on whether the decedent is survived by issue (children or grandchildren), parent, or parents.
If no surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner exists, or for shares from the estate that are not distributable to the surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner, the shares are distributed to the decedent's issue. If there is no issue, then to the decedent's parent or parents. If the decedent has no surviving parent or parents, then to the issue of parents. If there is no issue of parents, then to the decedent's grandparent or grandparents. If the decedent has no living grandparent or grandparents, then to the issue of the grandparent or grandparents.
As the above shows, if a person dies without making a will, the property, whether personal or real, will not automatically escheat to the state.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document in which you describe how what happens to your property after your death.
Who can make a will?
Any person may make a will as long as that person is at least 18 years of age and is of sound mind.
Can I name a personal representative in my will?
Yes. The will should also name a personal representative. This person will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will after you die.
What makes a will valid in Washington state?
To be valid in Washington, a will must be in writing, signed by you, and then witnessed and signed by two or more competent witnesses in your presence.
Does Washington state law require wills to be notarized?
No. However, your will should include a self-proving affidavit.
Who is a competent witness?
Your two witnesses need to be over 18 years of age. They should not be individuals named in your will. RCW 11.12.160(2) states that "the fact that the will makes a gift to a subscribing witness creates a rebuttable presumption that the witness procured the gift by duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence."
Can I later revoke my will?
Yes, you can revoke your will.
Can I change my will once I have made it?
Yes, you can change your will using a codicil.
Ruth A. Harper
I'm a Pacific Northwest attorney, and my focus is on estate planning and elder law. My interest in these fields grew out of my experience with aging relatives and family members with special needs.
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