Washington Restrictions on Who Can Serve as Executor

Learn the rules about who can be your executor in Washington state.

One of the most important reasons to make a will is to name your executor -- sometimes called a “personal representative” in Washington. After your death, your executor’s primary job is to protect your property until any debts and taxes have been paid, and then transfer what’s left to those who are entitled to it.

Every state has some rules about who may serve as the executor of an estate that goes through probate. Here are the requirements in Washington.

Basic Requirements for Serving as a Washington Executor

Your executor must be:

  • at least 18 years old, and
  • of sound mind -- that is, not judged incapacitated by a court.

(Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § § 11.28.040, 26.28.010.)

Many states prohibit people who have felony convictions from serving as executor. In Washington, you cannot appoint someone who has been convicted of a felony or “any crime involving moral turpitude.” (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 11.36.010.)

Rules for Corporate Executors

Washington statutes permit you to name a corporation as your executor only if it is a:

  • trust company or national bank that has not drawn up your will for you, and only if it or any of its salaried attorneys receives no fee for probating your estate
  • professional service corporation, professional limited liability company, or a limited liability partnership organized under Washington law and whose members are exclusively attorneys, or
  • nonprofit corporation, if its articles of incorporation or bylaws permit it to serve and it is fully in compliance with all state corporation laws.

(See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 11.36.010.)

That said, think carefully before appointing a corporation to represent your estate. It’s almost always best to name an individual; consider an institution only if you don’t know anyone you trust enough to serve or your estate is very large and complex.

Washington Restrictions on Out-of-State Executors

For practical reasons, it’s smart to name an executor who lives near you. Your executor may have to handle day-to-day matters for weeks, months, or sometimes longer. If you must appoint an executor who lives far away, you should know the requirements Washington imposes on out-of-state executors.

In Washington, a nonresident executor must post bond and appoint someone who lives in the county where the estate is being probated to act as an agent. Your executor’s in-state agent will accept legal papers on behalf of your estate. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 11.36.010.)

Learn More

For more information about choosing your executor and making your will, see the Wills section of Nolo.com.

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