Many people are concerned with ensuring that their possessions go to the people they want to have them when they pass away. The best way to make sure this happens is to have a valid will that provides instruction for what assets pass on to what individuals or entities. There are many ways to execute a valid will in Alabama, one of which is to have a handwritten will. But, having a handwritten, or holographic, will is not enough to make sure it is considered a valid will in Alabama.
In order for a person’s instructions in a will to be followed after their death, the will must be able to be proven as valid during the probate process. Probate is simply the process for officially proving a will valid and following the decedent’s instructions for distributing their estate after death. To have a valid will in Alabama, the document must be witnessed and signed by at least two people. Despite the fact that it is handwritten by the testator, or the person making the will, a handwritten will in Alabama must still be properly signed and witnessed to be considered a valid.
Having a will witnessed means that two individuals must observe the testator sign the will and then sign the will themselves. The witnesses must be over the age of eighteen and be of sound mind at the time the will is signed by the testator. After the testator’s death when the will is probated, these two witnesses would be required to testify in Probate Court that they did observe the testator sign the will, that the testator was over the age of eighteen and of sound mind, and that they declared the will to be their last will and testament.
In Alabama, the requirement that the witnesses testify during the probate process can be bypassed because a will can be self-proving, eliminating any potential issues with locating witnesses when the will is finally probated. For a will to be self-proving, the witnesses will sign the will acknowledging that they observed the testator’s signature and will also sign an affidavit stating that the will was in fact executed that day by the testator, the testator was over the age of eighteen, and of sound mind. This affidavit is made under oath, in front of a notary public, and attached to the will.
Without a valid will in Alabama, a person’s property would pass according to the laws of intestate succession. This means that Alabama law would determine who got what from the decedent’s estate. This is why it is so important to hire a local Alabama attorney that can assist you in preparing your will and estate planning documents. Your estate planning attorney can make sure all your assets are in order and your loved ones are protected during the probate process.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, probate, and real estate closings on this website. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply feedback. We appreciate our readers & love to hear from you!