Law Office of John S. Palmer Attorney at Law

(425) 455-5513

If You Die Without a Will

Posted Saturday, June 26, 2010 by John S. Palmer

Washington’s “Descent and Distribution” statutes dictate who inherits your estate if you die without a Will, Revocable Living Trust, or other document controlling who inherits.

Who would inherit your estate under the Descent and Distribution statutes depends upon whether you are married or in a registered domestic partnership at the time of your death, and whether you have any surviving children. Generally speaking, your spouse (or domestic partner) and children would receive everything, with your spouse (or domestic partner) most likely receiving most, if not all, of your property. If you are married or in a domestic partnership, and have no lineal descendants, your parents, siblings, or even nieces and nephews may inherit a portion of your estate; these same family members inherit everything if you are unmarried or unpartnered with no lineal descendants at the time of your death. (The statute works its way down the family tree until a class of surviving family members is located).

Children adopted by a decedent are entitled to a share of the decedent’s estate the same as a natural child; but step-children are not entitled to a share of the decedent’s estate unless they were legally adopted by the decedent.Suffice it to say that this distribution scheme may not be what you want, and a proper estate plan is the only way to make sure your property goes where you want after your death.

Download our Estate Planning Questionnaire.

We can tailor any estate planning document to meet your needs, and draft an estate plan that is right for you. We will also gladly review your existing estate plan free of charge, and let you know if any changes are recommended.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at (425) 455-5513, toll free at (877) 455-5513, or

Local: (425) 455-5513
Toll Free: (877) 455-5513
Fax: (425) 455-5546
Law Office of John S. Palmer11911 NE 1st St, Ste. B204,Bellevue, WA 98005-3056