Probate – Estates in Alabama
General Questions about Wills
Estates in Alabama
What Is a Will?
A Will is a document that provides the manner for which a person’s property will be distributed once he or she dies. A person who dies after writing a Will is said to have died “testate.” If someone dies without writing a Will, they have died “intestate.”
Who may make a Will?
In Alabama the maker of a Will must:
- be at least 18 years old;
- be of sound mind; and
- free from improper influences by other people.
How do I make a Will?
A Will must meet certain requirements set by the state to be considered valid. In Alabama the following requirements must be met:
- The Will must be written;
- The Will must be signed by the maker;
- The Will must be witnessed by two people in the manner required by law.
May I dispose of my property in anyway that I wish by making a Will?
Almost but not quite. There are some limitations set by law to avoid placing hardships on the people who survive the deceased. For example, a married person cannot completely exclude their spouse from sharing in the estate. A lawyer can best explain all the limitations that exist when preparing a Will.
How do I know if I need to write a Will?
Any amount of property that you own constitutes your estate. Generally the size of your estate and your family circumstances will determine whether you need a Will. The state does not have to be any particular size to justify a Will. If you have young children or property that you would like to assure is given to certain people, then you should consider writing a Will.
When do I need to consider a Will?
A Will should be written while the maker is in good health and free from any emotional distress. A prudent person does not wait for a catastrophe or other compelling reason to make a decisions like the ones needed when preparing their Will.
Who may draft a Will?
There is no requirement that a person consult a lawyer for drafting their own Will. However, the proper drafting of a Will can be a delicate operation, and it is best to consult someone who has experience. A lawyer can make sure that your Will is legal and your property will be given to the people you intend. A lawyer can also help construct a Will so that your family saves money when administrating the estate and that reduces their taxes.
Is a Will expensive?
A lawyer will usually charge for preparing a Will according to the time spent in doing so. If you have a small state and a simple plan for distributing your property then your Will should cost less than one for a large complex estate with several people receiving property.
May a Will be changed once it’s written?
A person may change their Will as often as he/she desires. However, the changes must meet the same requirements listed above as the original Will. If possible, no change should be made without first consulting with the person who drafted the original Will.
How long is my Will “good”?
A properly written and executed Will is “good” until there is a change or a vote. Writing a second Will usually revokes your first Will. However, if there’s a change in your estate or your family makeup you may consider changing your existing Will or writing a new one. For example, if you sell your house you may need to change your Will to reflect that change in your estate.
What should I do with my Will once it is written?
Once your Will has written, signed and witnessed, you should keep it in a safe place such as a safety deposit box in a bank. You should also let your family know where your Will is kept so they can find it when you die.