Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Alaska 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 person making the will) in creating valid Alaska wills, and in assigning a person (called the executor in most states) to administer an Alaska last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements for: Alaska 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 Alaska Last Will and Testament must be signed by the testator, or in the testator's name by another individual in the testator's conscious presence and under the testator's direction.
Witnesses: At least 2 witnesses who sign the will are required.
Writing: An Alaska Last Will and Testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: An Alaska Last Will and Testament may make a disposition of property to any person.
Other types of recognized wills:
Holographic Wills: A holographic will is one that is handwritten by the testator. Although Alaska law recognizes a handwritten will, state laws can be very particular regarding handwritten wills.
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, Alaska laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
LegalZoom's Alaska wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Alaska 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:
Community property passes onto the surviving spouse.
Elective share: Under Alaska laws, the surviving spouse has the right to take 1/3 of the estate after deducting funeral and administration expenses, homestead allowance, family allowances, exempt property, and enforceable claims against the estate.
Homestead allowance: A decedent's surviving spouse is entitled to a homestead allowance of $27,000. If there is no surviving spouse, each minor child and each dependent child of the decedent is entitled to a homestead allowance amounting to $27,000 divided by the number of minor and dependent children of the decedent.
Exempt property: the decedent's surviving spouse is entitled $10,000 in household furniture, automobiles, furnishings, appliances, and personal effects from the estate. If there is no surviving spouse, the decedent's children are entitled to share the same value.
Providing for Pets
Under applicable Alaska state laws, a trust for the care of your pets is valid provided that it is less than 21 years in duration. The trust allows you to assign a caretaker for your pet(s) to ensure proper care of your pet(s) after your death. The testator would have to create a testamentary addition to the will (known as a pour over will) that would devise the pet to a trustee. Legalzoom's Alaska wills form gives you the choice of providing for your pets in this manner.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
An Alaska will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A will can be changed through a codicil, which is a document making additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Alaska laws.
Revoking a Will
An Alaska will and testament, or part of one, can be revoked:
(1) by executing a subsequent Alaska will and testament that revokes the previous will in part or in its entirety; or
(2) by performing a revocatory act on the will (which includes burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating, or destroying all or part of the will), if the testator performed the act with the intent and the purpose of revoking all or part of the will, or if another individual performed the act in the testator's conscious presence and under the testator's direction.
Probate and Estate Taxes
After the testator has died, probate procedures prove the validity of the Alaska last will, pay off debts and taxes of the estate, and distribute property as designated in the Alaska last will. Alaska laws allow for informal probate and formal testacy proceedings. Informal probate bypasses the court to distribute property (although the court still has to approve the request) while formal testacy proceedings occur when the validity of the will is disputed by a party. Furthermore, supervised administration of the Alaska last will, whereby the court oversees the entire distribution of property, can be applied for in court.
According to the Alaska Tax Division: "Alaska's estate tax is the amount of state tax allowed as a credit on the estate's federal tax return. Taxes are due within 15 months from the decedent's date of death." The estate taxes due from probate of your Alaska last will are determined using these guidelines.
It is extremely important to make an Alaska will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed strictly according to Alaska state laws.
For example, if you do not make an Alaska will, your surviving spouse takes the entire estate if you leave no surviving children or parents at the time of your death.
If you make an Alaska will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.