LAST WILL & TESTAMENT
DO I NEED A LAST WILL & TESTAMENT?
Everyone needs a Will!
WHAT DOES A LAST WILL & TESTAMENT ACCOMPLISH?
A last will and testament (hereafter “Will”) is a document in which allows a person declares what he or she wants done with his or her property at the time of their death.
A Will has no effect until the person who wrote it, known as the Testator, dies. The Testator can also revoke a will at any time prior to their death.
Important to know…
If you die without a Will, the state will distribute your property to your heirs according to the state’s intestacy laws. The intestacy statutes might call for a distribution that is similar to what you want or not.
State intestacy laws provide guidelines as to how the sum total of your property is to be divided among your heirs. Intestacy Laws provide for those who will get certain specific items of your property. Intestate Estates (Those Estates without a Will) typically suffer hiccups in the process that lead to problems. More times than not, your heirs may not agree on who will get certain items of your personal property.
DO WILLS TRIGGER PROBATE?
Another misconception about having a will is the idea that having a will causes your heirs to have to go through probate, and that it will be difficult and expensive.
It is certain that you die:
- Intestate / without a will, the probate court is going to be the one to distribute your assets to your heirs.
- Testate / with a will, you have the ability to choose the person who will administer your estate, and you can provide within your will that the administrator of your estate will not have to post a surety bond.
DO YOU HAVE MINOR CHILDREN?
If so, You Need a Will.
At your death:
-If you do not have a Will, the Probate Court in the county of your residence will have to set up a conservatorship to manage your children’s share of your property. If a conservatorship has to be established… the probate judge will decide who manages the assets/money you leave behind until each of your children turns 18 no matter what.
-If you have a Will, you give yourself the ability to decide for yourself and consciously choose who will manage your children’s inheritance on their behalf, and you can choose the age at which you want it to be distributed to them.
More importantly, a Will is the document in which you name a guardian for your children.
WHAT ARE WILL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE STATE OF ALABAMA?
Regarding the will itself, the standard requirements are set forth in Alabama Code § 43-8-131.
Alabama Law states: That every Will shall be in writing signed by the Testator or in the Testator’s name by some other person in the Testator’s presence and at his direction and shall be signed by at least two persons each of whom witnessed either the signing or the testator’s acknowledgment of the signature or of the Will. Although there are various exceptions and special rules, these are the standard requirements for Alabama Wills.
DOES MY WILL NEED TO BE NOTARIZED?
You should definitely have your will notarized. Under Alabama law, a Will that meets certain requirements — including proper notarization — is “self-proved”.
Alabama Code § 43-8-132. A self-proved will can be admitted to probate court without the testimony of the witnesses to the Will. (When a Will that isn’t self-proved is submitted to the probate court, the court will require testimony from witnesses, or other proof, to establish that the Will is what it claims to be.)
It is important to know that Notarization is most important due to the fact that… by the time a Will is submitted to a court, it can be difficult to find witnesses and bring them all to court — not to mention the legal costs. So, you should definitely make your Will self-proved to help your loved ones avoid this hassle.
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