Washington End of Life Guide

Advance Directives 

Advance Directives are legal documents that allow you to make known your end-of-life care ahead of time. The state of Washington recognizes your right to decide the terms of your own medical treatment and to assign a person to make those decisions when you are not able to do so. 

Here are some important questions to consider before beginning this process:

  • Is this document(s) state specific? No

  • Does this document(s) need to be notarized? No

  • Does this document(s) require witnesses? If so, how many? Yes / 2

  • Can you legally use Aging With Dignity's 5 Wishes Doc? Yes

There is a single Advance Directive form for Washington that you can download by clicking below:


(Source: Washington State Medical Association)

Death with Dignity

Death with Dignity laws allow the dying more control of their death and end-of-life decisions. These laws allow terminally-ill, able-minded state residents to request and receive prescription medication to hasten their death. 

In Washington, Death With Dignity legislation has been in effect since 2009. 

Designated Funeral Agent

Washington law supports the appointment of a designated funeral agent to follow through on your written personal preferences (see below) or make funeral arrangements on your behalf if no written preferences are indicated.

Washington law RCW 68.50.160 allows "a person the right to control the disposition of his or her own remains... (and) a valid written document expressing the decedent's wishes regarding the place or method of disposition...signed in the presence of a witness, is sufficient legal authorization." 

The appointment of a designated funeral agent will override the next-of-kin's usual authority and let the citizen designate whom he/she wants to control the disposition of his body.


Financial Assistance

County welfare departments, as agents for the county commissioners, are responsible for authorizing and approving payment claims, not the state of Washington.

See our Financial Assistance Chart for more details.

Home Funeral

Home funerals, or family led funerals, are 100% legal in Washington. Your family or appointed agent may care for the deceased and handle all your funeral arrangements and necessary paperwork (permits and certificates) without a funeral director.

Check with the National Home Funeral Alliance for up-to-date details on how to navigate home funerals in Washington.

Personal Preference Law

Personal preference laws for body disposition obligate your survivors to follow your written [or verbal] personal preferences. This often goes hand-in-hand with designating a funeral agent to follow through with your funeral or body disposition preferences. 

In Washington, there is a statutory duty to comply with the written wishes of the deceased. We recommend writing your preferences down and sharing them with your spouse, next-of-kin, or designated funeral agent.