What Is a Super Will?
In 1998, Washington became the first state to allow the use of “super-Wills.”  A super-Will essentially allows a testator to change or “override” the provisions of non-probate assets--like insurance policy beneficiaries, bank accounts that are payable on death, pension beneficiaries or jointly held property with survivorship.  So let’s say Bob named Francis as the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policy, but later, executed a Will naming Larry as the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policy.  Under Washington’s super-Will law, Bob’s Will would “trump” and Larry would take the proceeds of the insurance policy.   

This law is subject to a few provisions.  Subsequently-designated beneficiaries (those named after a Will is executed) are not affected by the provisions of an earlier “super-Will”.    Only those beneficiaries named before a super-Will is executed can be over-ridden.   

Additionally, to effect control of a non-probate asset upon the death of a testator with a super-Will, a personal representative must give notice to the people involved—like the financial institutions holding non-probate assets, the non-probate beneficiaries, and the testamentary beneficiaries.  Absent such notice, the financial institution holding the non-probate asset may rely conclusively on the form of the non-probate asset and its beneficiary designation.  

But let’s say a non-probate beneficiary receives a non-probate asset to which he is not entitled?  What happens then?  The testamentary beneficiary (the beneficiary named in the super-Will) or the personal representative may petition the court for control of the asset.  However this petition has a time limit.  It must be brought within the earlier of 1) six months after admission of the Will to probate, or 2) one year after the decedent’s death.    If a financial institution holding a non-probate asset is aware of a dispute contesting the non-probate funds, the financial institution may hold the non-probate asset until it receives an agreed consent of all non-probate and testamentary beneficiaries.   The financial institution may also require a bond from the person to whom it makes transfer of the non-probate asset in twice the amount of the asset’s value.