Is there a personal/legal consequence for not filing a Will?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Is there a personal/legal consequence for not filing a Will?

My mother died 42 days ago. She had essentially no assets at the time of death, but for a small balance in her checking account about $2000 and that was used to pay her adult family home for her last half month care. My sister and I were both POA, and paid for my mother’s cremation. There is a Will and in it she left all of her assets to my sister and I. However, there isn’t anything for us to divide. I just discovered that the state requires wills to be filed withing 40 days of death. Is there a consequence to not filing the will? There is a 240 filing fee for probate, but since there’s nothing to distribute, I’m not willing to pay that. If I just decide not to file the will, is there any legal consequence for me, or my sister?

Asked on July 27, 2019 under Estate Planning, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, there is no legal consequence for beneficiaries or executors for not filing a will, and you are not required to go out of pocket (spend your own personal money) to file someone else's will. All that happens if that the will cannot be filed if you wait longer than 40 days, but that does not appear to be an issue for you.
Please accept our sympathy your family's loss.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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