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What You Need to Know About Probate in Alabama

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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.

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