The purpose of depositing a will with the clerk is to provide a safe place for the will. It is not required by law that a will be deposited with the clerk. The acceptance of a will for safekeeping by the clerk in no way ensures the validity of any provision contained in the will, nor does acceptance in any way enhance the force or effect of the will. This will is a sealed document before the testator dies and cannot be released except to the testator upon proper identification. Any person, including an attorney in fact or guardian of the testator, may withdraw the original will so filed only upon court order. Upon request and presentation of a certified copy of the testator’s death certificate, the will may become a matter of public record.
Pursuant to Chapter 11.12 RCW, the King County Superior Court Clerk will accept original wills of living testators (those for whom the wills are written) for deposit into the Clerk’s Will Repository under seal. The statute provides:
Any person who has custody or control of any original will and who has not received knowledge of the death of the testator may deliver the will for filing under seal to any court having jurisdiction. The testator may withdraw the original will so filed upon proper identification. Any other person, including an attorney in fact or guardian of the testator, may withdraw the original will so filed only upon court order after showing of good cause. Upon request and presentation of a certified copy of the testator's death certificate, the clerk shall unseal the file.
In King County, a party wishing to deposit an original will of a living person must complete a Will Repository Cover Sheet (WRCS). A filing fee of $20 is required to deposit a will in the Clerk’s Will Repository. An index will be maintained in the Superior Court Management Information System (SCOMIS) under the name and date of birth of the testator. Any other filing, such as of a codicil, also requires payment of the $20 filing fee. If a will is withdrawn from the Repository, it may be deposited again with payment of the $20 filing fee.
The testator may withdraw the will upon verification of identity. Removal of the deposited will by someone other than the testator requires a court order. A sample Motion and Order is available on the Clerk’s Web site. All pleadings filed relating to the repository must be captioned “IN RE THE DEPOSITED WILL OF ___(testator)_” and should include the date of birth of the testator.
After the death of the testator, and upon request and presentation of a certified copy of the death certificate, the will be unsealed.
The Clerk will retain deposited wills or the record of their withdrawal for 100 years.
Forms for Will Repository:
1. Will Repository Cover Sheet (Do not modify this form)
2. Motion and Declaration to Withdraw Will from Repository
3. Order to Withdraw Will from Repository