Washington Elective Shares
As a general rule in the United States, spouses cannot completely disinherit one another. In non-
community property law states, when you die, your spouse will automatically be entitled to inherit at
least some of the property you leave behind. The laws that protect spouses from being disinherited
are often referred to as elective share laws.
The state of Washington is a community property state, so its provisions for a surviving spouse are
different than those you might find in a non-community property state. Here's what you need to
Married couples in Washington each, individually, own a share of all the community property they
acquire during the marriage. It doesn't matter in whose name the property is held or who paid for the
property. Upon the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse retains his or her half interest in all the
community property, and has a right to keep it or distribute it as he or she sees fit.
Some property may still be separate property in Washington. Separate property of a spouse includes
gifts he or she receives or property owned individually and maintained separately during the course of
the marriage. It also includes any inheritances either spouse received while they were in the marriage.
Spouses are not typically entitled to inherit any of this property upon the death of the other spouse,
and each spouse can choose to leave this property to whomever he or she chooses.
Experienced estate planning attorneys Seattle WA of the Byrd Garrett PLLC offers estate planning and
business planning resources to residents of Seattle WA. To learn more about these free resources,
please visit http://www.byrdgarrett.com today.