Frequently Asked Questions about Wills & Estates in Alabama.
What is a will?
When a person dies, a will is the document that provides direction as to how that person's property will be distributed. A person who dies and leaves a will is said to have died testate. If they did not leave awilll they have died intestate.
Who should make a will?
In the state of Alabama, a person making a will should be at least 18 years of age, of sound mind, and free from the influence of other people.
How do I go about making a will?
While a person may write a will without an attorney, it is strongly recommended that one consult with an attorney when drafting a will. The requirements for a will in Alabama are that the will must be written, signed by the maker, and witnessed by two people and notarized by a notary public.
Can I divide my property any way I want in my will?
You can, with some exceptions. If you are married, you cannot completely exclude your spouse from their share in the estate. There are other limitations as well. This is one of the reasons it is best to consult with an attorney when writing a will.
Do I really need a will?
Probably. If you have children, or own real property, an automobile and other personal possessions, a will ensures that those items are distributed to the persons you want to have them. Since wills are not that expensive, it's best to talk to us about whether you need one.
When do I need to write a will?
Now. It is always best to write a will when you are in good health and of sound mind. One never knows what lies in the future. Why take a chance?
Can I draft a will myself?
There is no legal reason you cannot write and draft your own will. However, if you want to be assured that it is done properly and follows Alabama guidelines, you need to speak to an attorney. The experienced attorneys at Bouloukos, Oglesby and Mitchell can also save you money on administration and taxes later on.
Is a will expensive?
Usually the cost is dependent upon the complexity of the document and your situation. Small estates with a simple plan generally are fairly inexpensive. Bouloukos, Oglesby, and Mitchell can give you an idea about costs in an initial free consultation.
What if I want to change my will after it is written?
You can always change your will at any time. However, the changes must still adhere to the legal requirements of the State of Alabama. It is wise to consult an attorney whenever you want to change your will.
Can my will become outdated or invalid?
If your will is properly written and executed it will remain valid unless you change it or revoke it. It is good to review your will periodically especially if you sell property or your family status changes
11. What should I do with my will?
Always keep it in a safe place, either in a fire safe or in a safe deposit box at your local bank. Be sure to tell your family where it is located
12. What is Probate?
When a will is Probated, the estate of the deceased is disposed of according to the will or by the Probate Judge's decisions if there is no will. The Judge must also determine that all of the Alabama laws have been followed in distributing the assets of the deceased.
Who handles Probating a will?
When someone dies, the Will usually names a representative who will handle the will. Anyone named as a recipient of property in the will can also open a Probate proceeding. Anyone who is in possession of the willmayy by Alabama law deliver the will to the Probate Court.
Where will this occur?
It must be filed in the county where the deceased lived.
When must this happen?
A will must be filed for probate within five years after the death of the deceased.
Do I need an attorney?
Yes because the Probate Judge cannot advise you on the law or assist you with forms.
What if I don't probate a will?
Sometimes a will may not have to be probated but it is very important to talk to an attorney before making that decision because there are consequences to wrong decisions.
What if I don't have a will?
If you die and don't have a will, you have died intestate. In the state of Alabama the estate will be divided as follows:
1. if the deceased does not have any living parents or any children, the entire estate will go to the surviving spouse.
2. The first $100,000 plus one-half of the balance of the estate if there is no survivingissue*e but there are surviving parent(s) of the deceased.
3. The first $50,000 plus one-half of the balance of the estate if there are surviving issue all of whom are also issue of surviving spouse; or one-half of the estate if there are surviving issue who are not issue of the surviving spouse.
4. If there is no surviving spouse, or there is property left after the spouse receives his or her share, it passes under the following priority:
All of the property passes to theissue,, unless there are none. If none, all passes to the parents. If neither parent is living, the estate passes to siblings, and so on under this priority:
brothers and sisters
aunts and uncles
* "issue" means all of the people who have descended from the deceased. This includes children (both natural and adopted), grandchildren (both natural and adopted), great grandchildren, and so on.
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