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What You Need to Know About Probate in Alabama

What You Need to Know About Probate in Alabama

Losing a loved one is never easy. Beyond the grief of their passing, oftentimes there are legal matters to be handled as well. 

The probate process will manage the partition of the estate. However, it is very important that you comprehend how the process works. Every state has its own set of rules, timelines, and specifications, and Alabama is no different. For you to accomplish the process correctly, you must comply with these restrictions.

Probate is the procedure of disseminating what remains to inheritors under the supervision of the court, as well as gathering a deceased person’s assets, paying taxes and debts. In Alabama, an Executor or Personal Representative is appointed by the court, either as directed by statute (if the estate owner dies intestate without a Will) — or as nominated by the deceased in their Will.

In the vast majority of cases, you will have to deal with probate, which can be a difficult, expensive, and time-consuming process if you are not knowledgeable about it. Here we will go over some of the essential aspects of probate in Alabama to lay out how it works, when it is necessary, and what’s involved in the probate process.

The Alabama Probate Process

If a loved one passes away and designates you as a beneficiary in their last will and testament, you must go through the Alabama probate process to obtain your inheritance. 

The vast majority of heirs enter probate court unfamiliar with the length and complexity of the inheritance procedure. In Alabama, many delays can occur during the probate process, preventing you from moving forward at that time. Unfortunately, you will not have access to your portion of the estate until the estate is settled, which can take months or even years.

Is Probate Considered Necessary in Alabama?

In Alabama, probate is not mandatory unless the property is transferred directly to another individual. However, for smaller estates you can use summary distribution via Small Estate Probate, which is less time-consuming than the traditional probate process. If the estate is worth less than $25,000 and consists of no real estate, arrangements have been made, all expenditures have been paid, or maybe a notice of the estate was published for one week, the heir may receive the assets under the small estate statute.

Probate Proceeding in Alabama

The length of time it takes to administer an estate in Alabama varies depending upon the complexity of the estate and the personal representative’s diligence. However, because the estate must remain open for six months to enable creditors to file claims, closing the estate in fewer than six months is not possible.

Common Alabama Probate Court Fees

The cost of probate varies significantly based on the work that needs to be completed. Some estates might take years to settle and entail complex tax and family issues, while others can be settled in a matter of months. Because of this variability, it’s challenging to construct a cost estimate without at least having a basic understanding of the estate.

While there are some differences in probate costs across the state, there are some standard fees you should expect to pay as you go through the process. The following are examples of possible fees:

  • Executor/Administrator/Probate Bond 
  • Professional fees: accountants; appraisers; land surveyors
  • Executor’s fee
  • Filing fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Court costs

Is it Possible to Avoid Probate in Alabama?

While it may not be possible to avoid probate entirely, effective estate planning can help to reduce the amount of time and money spent on the process by excluding assets from the probate estate. One of the most popular tools for completing this process is a revocable living trust

Besides that, putting assets under joint ownership or into beneficiary-designated insurance policies, retirement funds, and other vehicles enables the assets to flow directly to the intended recipient without going through probate. Probate avoidance or minimization is a thoughtful strategy for increasing the value of your estate for the benefit of your loved ones and family.

Is a Notarized Will Necessary in Alabama?

When a Will is notarized and witnessed by two individuals, it becomes “self-proving,” and self-proving Wills are simple and easy to probate. State probate laws, in general, require probate courts to determine the legitimacy of Wills presented for probate. Anyone can submit a Will for probate when a person passes away, and the testator can select a legal executor to carry out his intentions. During the probate process, the legitimacy of the Will must also be established.

When an Alabama probate court acknowledges the executor’s request to probate the testator’s Will, the court will contact each witness who signed the Will on the testator’s behalf to determine the Will’s legal validity. The purpose of the court is to ensure that the Will was carried out correctly and without fraud, mental incompetence, or duress.

Work With an Expert Probate Law Attorney in Alabama

Whether it’s a straightforward trust for an individual or family that owns a single home, or a complex, high-net worth, estate plan involving multi-faceted structuring, lifetime gifting, valuations, and irrevocable trust strategies, Brackin & Johnson will provide you with the estate planning and trust solutions you need to protect your family legacy.Call or email us today to assist with all of your estate planning needs.

Eviction Process in Alabama Explained

Eviction Process In Alabama Explained

Now that the nationwide eviction moratorium enacted by the Centers For Disease Control is coming to an end, evictions are expected to increase. If you need to evict a tenant, it is critical that you follow the proper steps. If you fail to do so, your eviction will likely fail, causing more lost rental income and wasted court fees. In some cases, neglecting the proper procedures can result in statutory damages being assessed against the landlord. 

In this article, we will explore the rules and procedures that govern Alabama evictions. 

Notice For Termination

In the first step of the eviction process, the landlord must provide written notice of default and opportunity to cure that default.. According to Alabama law, the landlord can only terminate the lease if there is a legal cause, such as failure to pay rent, violating the lease terms, or engaging in illegal activity while on the property.

If there is a legal cause, the landlord has to provide a seven-day notice. Depending on the reason for the lease termination, the landlord might provide a lease termination that covers:

Seven-day notice for nonpayment of rent – This notice informs the tenant that they must pay all back rent and late fees within seven days if they don’t, or the lease will be terminated. If the tenant fails to pay as demanded or vacate the property, the landlord will then file an eviction lawsuit called an Unlawful Detainer action. If the tenant does pay the rent, the landlord cannot proceed with the eviction. 

Seven-day notice to remedy or fix the violation – If the tenant violated the lease or rental agreement, the landlord could give them a seven-day notice to remedy the issue or move out. If the tenant fails to fix the problem, the landlord can terminate the lease and file an eviction lawsuit. 

Seven-day quit notice – In cases where the violation is severe, the landlord is not required to give the tenant a grace period to remedy the issue. In this case, the seven-day notice lets the tenant know that they have seven days to leave the property, or they will file for eviction. This type of notice is typically given in situations where the tenant:

  • Assaulted someone or another tenant on the property
  • The tenant provided false or misleading information on their rental application or agreement
  • Dangerously discharged a firearm on the property

If the landlord doesn’t have a legal cause, they cannot evict the tenant. Instead, they’ll have to wait until the lease expires before expecting the tenant to move out. Once the lease ends, the landlord has to provide a written notice informing the tenant that they do not wish to renew the lease and have to move out of the property.

The lease termination notice is based on the tenancy agreement. So if the tenant paid rent on a month-to-month basis, the landlord has to provide a 30-day notice. 

Can You Fight An Eviction?

A tenant has the right to fight an eviction lawsuit even if the landlord has a valid legal ground for moving forward with it. In some cases, the tenant may also have a valid legal defense, such as if the landlord has shown discriminatory behavior or believes that the eviction was an act of retaliation. If the tenant decides to fight against action, additional costs may be tacked onto the lawsuit to cover court and legal fees. However, they’ll have more time to live in the rental unit. 

Can Your Landlord Remove You From The Property?

The only way a landlord can legally remove you from their property is if they win the eviction lawsuit. Even then, a law enforcement officer will be sent to enforce this legal order. Therefore, it’s against the law for a landlord to force the tenant out of the property or to remove their belongings. 

Get Help Now For Your Eviction Case

This article highlights some common eviction concerns but is not exhaustive. Evictions require attention to detail. When a landlord fails to follow the regulations and procedures required by Alabama law, the eviction is not valid. These laws are put in place to protect both the tenant, the property owner and to ensure that the eviction process is fair. The purpose of such procedures is to make sure the tenant has enough time to make other living arrangements. 

If you need help with an eviction, it’s important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Here at Brackin & Johnson, we have decades of experience in handling eviction cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us fight for you.

How Is Property Divided in a Divorce in Alabama?

How Is Property Divided in a Divorce in Alabama?

No one hopes to go through a divorce, but it’s something that many people will experience in their lifetime. While your emotions may be running high, the most important thing to remember is that knowledge can be your best asset during the divorce process. Knowing how divorce processes work in your state, which forms you need to file, and how to find an experienced divorce attorney prepares you for your case and arms you with the best chance of a favorable outcome.

You will have many questions when you start the divorce process, and how property division is handled is likely one of them. Whether you and your spouse own a lot or a little bit of property, you need to know what you are each entitled to in the divorce proceedings — it’s often one of the most confusing subjects you will encounter. 

Equitable Distribution

Alabama is known as an equitable distribution state. This means that when couples don’t agree on how their property should be divided, the court will decide to divide property in an equitable manner, which the court will determine. 

What About Marital and Separate Property?

Most of the property obtained during the marriage will be considered marital property in the state of Alabama. So, if spouses both purchased a house while they were married, it will be considered marital property and will be divided as such according to equitable distribution principles. 

If a house is purchased by one spouse before the marriage or inherited by one spouse after the marriage, it may be considered separate property if it is not commingled in the marital estate.. This situation depends on a variety of factors, though — for instance, if both spouses used the property during the marriage and both parties benefited, the court may determine such property as marital property, despite how the couple obtained it. 

Property Types

Property is defined in two different categories in the state of Alabama: real property and personal property

Real property encompasses land and the buildings on the land, including houses and undeveloped tracts of land that either one or both spouses own or acquire before or during the marriage. 

Land is often a contention in divorce. This often happens when one spouse wants to keep a piece of land that might be owned jointly and comes with a mortgage or other debt that should be considered when the property is divided during divorce. 

Personal property is defined as any other property that is not land or buildings. This property may include antiques, furniture, cars, motorcycles, boats, artworks, jewelry, and other possessions. 

Property Inventory

Upon the decision to obtain a divorce, you should create an inventory of all your property. This should include both real and personal property. If you do so, working with a divorce attorney will likely be much easier. You will be able to establish what property you would like to keep and what property you are willing to negotiate. You’ll also produce a more explicit picture of the total amount of property that may be at stake during the divorce. 

You should also keep in mind the property’s value that might be divided during the divorce process. This includes potential debt related to ownership of that property. 

Property Division

There isn’t just one rule for how the court will divorce property during a divorce. The court will consider many factors, and it can help if both spouses agree on how everything should be divided. Mediators can help couples decide what to divide. 

If the court is a part of a situation where spouses won’t agree on the division, things can get unpredictable. Many factors are considered in property division, and an experienced divorce attorney can help you understand the process and the factors involved. 

Some of these factors include the following:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • The financial and contributions to the marriage made by each spouse.
  • Possible tax consequences related to property division

The longer a couple has been married, the more likely the courts will divide the property equally. Certain elements can play a part in that decision. 

Other Factors

Real and personal property aren’t the only property types considered during divorce proceedings. Some couples own intellectual property that must be considered. Retirement accounts and other investments may also be divided during a divorce. 

Sometimes there are essential tax consequences that may result from property division, so each spouse must be aware of such effects that could result from these factors. 

Baldwin County Family Law — Representation Tailored to You and Your Family

If you know that divorce is imminent, the sooner you start planning, the better. You never want to rush into the divorce process unprepared. The best option available to you is to hire an experienced divorce attorney to help you get prepared. 

The legal experts at Brackin & Johnson have provided family law representation to clients in Baldwin County, Alabama, for over 40 years. We will do everything we can to resolve disputes through negotiation and mediation. However, if it is in your best interest to go to trial, we will aggressively fight for you.

If you need an expert divorce attorney, contact Brackin & Johnson today. Let us help you make this process as seamless as possible.

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