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