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Washington State Estate and Inheritance Tax: Your Answers Here

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: February 25, 2024

Washington State Estate and Inheritance Tax: Your Answers Here

If you are searching Google for answers concerning Washington Estate Tax or Washington State Inheritance Tax, you are asking the right questions and your are in the right place.

The good news is that by hiring an experienced estate planning attorney early (the earlier the better), you have a good chance at either eliminating the Washington State Estate Tax upon the death of the first spouse. HOWEVER, if you do not do any planning before a life event occurs (i.e. dementia, alzheimer’s, physical and/or mental incapacity), then you and your family will not be able to legally prepare and sign the necessary legal documents to avoid a formal probate case and will not be able to make provisions to potentially avoid inheritance tax in Washington.

If the thought of dealing with Estate Tax is on your mind….hire an estate planning lawyer and put a complete plan together.

Maximizing Your Estate: Washington State Inheritance Tax Planning

Understanding Washington State Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is a critical consideration for anyone managing their estate in Washington State. Unlike some other states, Washington does impose a inheritance tax, which is a tax paid by your estate before any assets are transferred to your beneficiaries. It is important to note that Washington does have its own set of taxes and regulations that can impact the transfer of assets upon someone’s passing.

The Role of Estate Tax in Washington State

Washington State imposes an estate tax on estates exceeding a certain threshold. This means that if the total value of your estate exceeds the exemption amount set by the state, your estate may be subject to paying estate taxes which will reduce the amount of money and assets that ultimately are distributed to your heirs.

Exemption Thresholds and Tax Rates

As of 2024, the estate tax exemption threshold in Washington State is $2.193 million per individual. This means that if the value of your estate falls below this threshold, it will not be subject to estate tax. However, any amount above this threshold is taxed at a rate ranging from 10% to 20%, depending on the total value of the estate.

We have a detailed article on our website that goes in specifics concerning the estate tax that includes charts and estimated tax calculations by clicking this link: What Is The Washington State Estate Tax Rate?

If you want to look directly at the State of Washington Department of Revenue website you can also click on this link for more information.


Strategies for Minimizing Estate Taxes

  1. Lifetime Gifting

One effective strategy for minimizing estate taxes is to engage in lifetime gifting. By gifting assets to your heirs during your lifetime, you can reduce the overall value of your estate, thus potentially lowering the amount subject to estate tax upon your passing. However, it’s essential to consider the gift tax implications and ensure compliance with both Washington State and the IRS regulations.

  1. Establishing Trusts

Another valuable tool for estate planning  is the establishment of trusts especially in the situation of a married couple preparing an estate plan together. In most situations with property estate planning prepared by an experienced estate plannying lawyer, a plan an be structured so that both Washington Tax AND Federal IRS Estate Tax can be avoided upon the death of the first spouse. The bonus for a married couple is that if the plan is done correctly, the surviving spouse can also avoid filing a probate case in Washington AND any other state that the deceased owned real estate.

  1. Utilizing Spousal Portability

Washington State offers a portability provision for married couples, allowing the surviving spouse to utilize any unused portion of their deceased spouse’s estate tax exemption. This means that with proper planning, couples can effectively double the amount of assets they can pass on to their heirs free of estate tax.

Importance of Advance Planning

The key to minimizing Washington State inheritance tax lies in proactive and strategic planning by hiring an experienced estate planning lawyer. By taking action early and implementing the right strategies, you can ensure that more of your hard-earned assets are preserved for your loved ones. Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you navigate the complexities of estate tax laws and develop a comprehensive plan tailored to your unique circumstances.

  • Remember this: You can never get your estate planning done too early… can only wait until it is too late. If you wait too long, you and your family will be stuck with whatever the legislature provides.


In conclusion, Washington State impose inheritance tax, its estate tax laws can still have significant implications for your estate planning. By understanding the exemptions, tax rates, and available strategies for minimizing estate taxes, you can take control of your financial legacy and provide for your heirs more effectively. Remember, proper planning in advance is key to maximizing the value of your estate and minimizing tax liabilities.


Author: Christopher A. Benson, Attorney

Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson, PLLC

1814 S. 324th Pl. Ste B

Federal Way, WA 98003

(253) 815-6940

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