What Happens if a Will Is Not Filed? + Supplies You Need to File a Will

5th Jan 2024

What Happens if a Will Is Not Filed? + Supplies You Need to File a Will

Picture this: You've spent a lifetime amassing treasures, sharing secrets, and perfecting your secret meatball recipe. You've even managed to keep your houseplants alive for more than a week! But hold on a second - what if you forget the crucial step of filing your will?

Cue dramatic music.

What happens if a will is not filed? Read on to find out, and what supplies you need to make sure your will is properly filed.

What Happens if a Will Is Not Filed?

If a will is not filed or not properly executed, it can lead to various legal and practical complications.

If a will is not filed with the appropriate court, the probate process may be delayed. Probate is the process through which a person's estate is administered, any outstanding debts are paid, and assets are given out according to their will. Filing the will initiates this process, and without it, the court may not be aware of the deceased person's wishes.

When a will is not filed, or if no valid will exists, the estate is typically treated as if the deceased died intestate. Intestacy laws dictate how the estate is distributed among surviving relatives, often in a predetermined order of priority. This may not align with the deceased person's actual wishes.

Without a filed will, family members and potential heirs may be unaware of its existence or contents. This lack of transparency can lead to disagreements among family members about the dissemination of any assets. Legal challenges may arise, and the court may need to intervene to determine the rightful heirs.

In some jurisdictions, there may be financial penalties for failing to file a will within a specified timeframe. Executors or individuals responsible for filing the will may face consequences for not fulfilling this legal obligation.

Without a filed will, some assets may go unclaimed, as the court may not be aware of their existence or the intended beneficiaries. This can result in financial losses for heirs and may complicate the distribution of the estate.

Filing a will also serves the purpose of providing a roadmap for locating and distributing the deceased person's assets. Without a filed will, locating and managing these assets may become more challenging for the executor and beneficiaries.

Dangers of Not Probating a Will

Probating a will involves proving its validity, settling outstanding debts, and distributing any assets that remain to the heirs or beneficiaries according to what has been outlined in the will or, if there is no will, according to state intestacy laws.

Without probate, the document's legitimacy may be questioned, leading to conflicts over the distribution of assets.

Probate provides a systematic and transparent framework for the distribution of any outstanding assets according to the will writer's wishes. Without probate, there is no legal assurance that the assets will be distributed correctly.

This uncertainty can lead to confusion, disagreements, and even legal battles among family members and heirs.

Probate also serves to address any outstanding debts or claims against the estate. Failing to probate a will may leave the estate vulnerable to creditors seeking repayment.

Probate procedures typically involve notifying creditors and providing them with an opportunity to make claims. Without this process, creditors may pursue legal action against the estate at a later time.

Will Supplies You Need to File

If you've decided to create a will and want to ensure it's properly filed, it's time to stock up on supplies.

The most crucial document is the original signed and witnessed will. It is essential to have the original copy, as photocopies may not be accepted by the court.

Ensure that the will is properly executed, signed by the person whose will it is and witnessed according to legal requirements. A lawyer can help ensure you have everything you need.

Depending on the jurisdiction, you may need specific legal forms or applications to initiate probate proceedings. Check with the local probate court or consult with an attorney to ensure you have the correct paperwork.

Be prepared to pay any required filing fees associated with submitting the will and initiating probate. The amount can vary depending on where a person is and the value of the estate.

If you need to mail any documents to the probate court or other relevant authorities, ensure you have envelopes, postage stamps, and the correct addresses.

Some jurisdictions may require certain documents to be notarized. If needed, locate a notary public to witness and authenticate signatures on legal documents.

How To Write a Will USA

Before you file a will, you have to actually write it. Begin with an introductory paragraph that clearly identifies the document as your will. Include your full name and residence. State that you are of sound mind and not under any undue influence.

Designate an executor. An executor is the person in charge of carrying out the terms of your will. This should be someone you trust, and it's a good idea to have a backup executor in case the primary executor is unable or unwilling to carry out the process.

You can also have a legal professional handle the executor process. Clearly outline how you want your assets to be distributed. Specify which assets go to which beneficiaries. Be specific and detailed to avoid any ambiguity.

If you have minor children or dependents, specify who will be their guardian. Also, consider creating a trust for their financial well-being and designate a trustee.

Include any specific instructions regarding your funeral or burial preferences. This could include details about cremation, burial location, or any specific religious or cultural practices.

Include provisions for what happens if a beneficiary or executor predeceases you or is unable to fulfill their duties. Specify alternate beneficiaries or executors.

A lawyer can help ensure that you have all your ducks in a row, and you haven't missed anything important while writing your will.

What Happens if a Will Is Not Filed? Now You Know

What happens if a will is not filed? Hopefully, you know why you should avoid this situation. Are you ready to start shopping for will supplies? You don't have to look very far.

Exhibitindexes.com has been helping people get the legal office supplies they need since the 1980s.

If you're ready to start shopping, contact us today.