Creating an Alabama will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Alabama wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with the testator (or the person making the will) in creating valid Alabama wills, and in assigning a person (called the executor in most states) to administer an Alabama last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements for: Alabama Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old.
Capacity: The testator must be of sound mind (capable of reasoning and making decisions).
Signature: An Alabama last will and testament must be signed by the testator, or in the testator's name by some other person in the testator's presence and under his direction.
Witnesses: At least 2 witnesses who sign the will are required.
Writing: An Alabama last will and testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: An Alabama last will and testament may make a disposition of property to any person.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Alabama laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
LegalZoom's Alabama wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Alabama wills form may also be used to name an executor to handle a testator's property and affairs from the time of death until an estate is settled.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Jointly held property with a right of survivorship passes onto the surviving owner. Generally, the property's documents must specify a survivorship right.
Life insurance beneficiaries may not be changed through a will.
Elective share by the surviving spouse: A surviving spouse may take a share of the estate as specified by Alabama laws, regardless of the content of the will.
Homestead allowance: A surviving spouse of a decedent who was residing in the state is entitled to a homestead allowance of $6000. If no spouse, then the surviving children share the amount.
Exempt property: A surviving spouse of a decedent who was residing in the state is entitled to $3500 in household furniture, automobiles, furnishings, appliances and personal effects. If no spouse, then the surviving children share the amount.
Family allowance: The surviving spouse or children of a decedent who was residing in Alabama may be entitled to an allowance of money set by the court during the administration of the will.
Providing for Pets
Alabama law currently does not have specific statutes pertaining to providing care for pets. However, the testator may specify a beneficiary as the new owner of a pet. Legalzoom's Alabama wills form gives you the choice of providing for your pets in this manner.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
An Alabama Will and Testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A will can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original Alabama will and testament. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Alabama laws.
Revoking a Will
An Alabama Will and Testament, or any part thereof, can be revoked:
- by a subsequent Alabama Will and Testament which revokes all or part of the prior will directly or through conflicting terms in the subsequent will; or
- by being burned, torn, canceled, obliterated, or destroyed, with the intent and for the purpose of revoking it, by the testator or by another person in his presence by his consent and direction. If the physical act is by someone other than the testator, consent and direction of the testator must be proved by at least two witnesses.
Probate and Estate Taxes
After the testator has died, probate procedures prove the validity of the Alabama last will, pay off debts and taxes of the estate, and distribute property as designated in the Alabama last will. Probate proceedings should be filed within 5 years after the death of the testator.
Alabama's estate tax encompasses the federal estate tax credit. Therefore, no additional tax is required. Any taxes must be paid within 9 months of the testator's death and file with the Alabama State Department of Revenue. The taxes owed on the estate from probate of your Alabama last will are determined using these guidelines.
It is extremely important to make an Alabama will if you want to control the distributing of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Alabama state laws.
For example, if the testator does not make an Alabama will and dies leaving a spouse and children, the spouse is entitled to $50,000 in property, along with of the estate, and the children share the remaining half of the estate in equal amounts. Furthermore, the court will appoint someone, known or unknown to the testator, to manage the estate.
If you make an Alabama will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.