Do I need to probate my mom’s Will if she left no assets?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I need to probate my mom’s Will if she left no assets?

My parents made Wills 43 years ago; they left everything to each other. If both died then my brother and I would share the estate. He was 2 and I was 6 months. They later had 2 more children but never added them to the Will. My dad died 12 years ago; my mom passed last month. My brother has rejected the family and did not even come when mom was dying. Besides that, there was no estate. My parents never owned a house or property, there was no car, even her bank account was overdrawn at the time of her death. Anything worth anything my brother sold years ago when he lived with mom. I lived with mom and was her caregiver for over 10 years. Do I need to probate the Will if there is no assets to divide?

Asked on March 15, 2018 under Estate Planning, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Generally, if there are no estate assets a Will need not be admitted for probate. However, in some states, if you have possession of the original Will you must file it with the local probate court. Basically, you can drop the Will off with the court, thereby complying with state law and pay no fee. Here is a link to an article that will explain further:

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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