Most people want their possessions and assets to go to the people they love when they pass away. One way to assure this happens is to create a valid will that can be probated. Without a will, the intestate laws of estate succession in your state will apply to your estate. This may mean your sister you hate or the child in prison that you wanted to disinherit because of a judgment or debt he or she owes may inherit against your wishes.
The following table describes the main Alabama wills laws.
||Alabama Code Title 43: Wills and Decedents’ Estates
|Age of Testator
||Any person who is 18 years or older and “of sound mind” can make a will. For wills, a sound mind is a low threshold. A person can have some mental illness or intellectual disabilities and still create a will if they understand the nature of what they have and who they’d like to give it to.
|Number of Witnesses
||Wills must be signed by the testator (the person the will is for) in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the will. Alternatively, the testator can have a person sign the will at his or her direction in front of the witnesses, this is good for those who can’t write or who are too ill to write.
The witnesses must be competent and can have an interest in the will, although this may not be the best choice of a witness.
|Oral (Nuncupative) Wills
||Alabama, like most states, doesn’t recognize oral or “nuncupative” wills. Generally, the minority of states that do accept these oral wills only do so in limited circumstances, such as an emergency situation where the person is on his or her deathbed and tells two or more witnesses of what he or she wants in the will.
|Holographic (Handwritten) Wills
||Alabama, unlike some states like Texas, doesn’t recognized wills only handwritten by the testator. This is because of the statutory requirement that every will must be witnessed and attested to by at least two people.
A will that is handwritten by a testator and also attested to by two witnesses is not considered a holographic will, but a will that follows the statutory requirements.
|Revocation of Wills
||A will or any part of a will can be revoked by a subsequent will which either revokes the will expressly or by a change or inconsistency. Wills can also be revoked by burning, tearing, or destroying with the intent of revoking.
However, if a person other than the testator physically destroys the will, it must be at the direction of the testator and proved by two witnesses to be at the testator’s request.
If you want to create a will, it’s best to consult with an experienced Alabama estate planning attorney because there are many legal requirements and tax consequences that are confusing. If you have almost nothing, no money or property, you may not need a will, but you can also create one using a simple will form just in case your situation changes. If you have no family to inherit your estate and don’t want it to go to the state of Alabama, you may also want to create a will so your assets can go to your friends or favorite charities.
Note: As state laws change frequently, it’s important to conduct your own legal research to verify the state laws you’re researching.
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