Making a Will in Alabama
GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT WILLS WHAT IS A WILL? A Will is a document that provides the manner in which a person’s assets will be distributed when he/she dies. A person who dies after writing a Will is said to have died testate. If someone dies without signing a Will, they have died intestate. WHO MAY MAKE A WILL? In Alabama, the maker of a Will must be: 1. At least 18 years old; 2. Of sound mind; and 3. 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: 1. The Will must be written. 2. The Will must be signed by the maker. 3. The Will must be witnessed by two people in the manner required by law. A Will that is notarized with a proper statement is a self-proving Will, which does not require a hearing to appoint a Personal Representative, if all heirs-at-law sign a Waiver.
MAY I DISPOSE OF MY ASSETS IN ANY WAY I DESIRE BY MAKING A WILL? Almost, but not quite. There are some limitations set by law to avoid placing hardships on the surviving spouse. For example, a married person cannot completely exclude the other spouse from sharing in the estate, without a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement. A lawyer can best explain all of the limitations. HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED TO MAKE A WILL? Any amount of assets that you own constitutes your estate. Generally, the size of your estate and your family circumstances determine whether you need a Will. An estate does not have to be any particular size to justify a Will. If you have young children, or assets that you would like to assure will be given to certain people or you have assets titled solely in your name, you need a Will. If your estate (or the combined estate of you and your spouse) exceeds $2,000,000, then you need to make a Will, which takes advantage of the estate tax laws. This amount i