How Much Does Probate Cost in Alabama?

The costs of probate varies depending on a number of factors including the size and complexity of the estate, whether the person died with a valid will, whether there are any disputes as to the will or any debts left behind by the decedent, and where the probate action must be filed. How much does Probate cost in Alabama?Common expenses involved with probating an estate include filing fees and court costs, the estate executor’s fee, attorney fees, professional fees for accountants or other necessary services, and surety bonds.

Filing fees and court costs for probating a will differ based on where the case must be filed. For example, the filing fee to probate a will is about $57.00 in Jefferson County and $47.00 in Madison County, Alabama. Along those same lines, attorney’s fees and professional service costs such as appraisers, accountants, and land surveyors have varying fees based on a variety of factors including experience, size of the estate, and complexity of their involvement.

Some costs can be avoided in probate. For example, the executor of the estate, or the decedent’s appointed or elected personal representative, is entitled to reasonable compensation for their role in the probate process. This means, the executor is entitled to compensation in an amount up to 5% of the total value of the estate. As you can imagine, this can be a large sum. However, the executor can elect to waive their right to be compensated, thereby reducing the costs of probate by their share. How much does probating an estate cost in Alabama?Additionally, a person can waive the requirement that the executor post a surety bond before being appointed to represent the estate when they draft their will. Otherwise, the probate judge may require the executor to pay for and post a bond in an amount determined by him or her.

Also, although Alabama does not have any estate taxes, there are federal estate taxes that are assessed on individuals leaving behind estates that exceed a certain value. The Internal Revenue Service states that, for 2019, individual estates larger than $11.4 million or marital estates larger than $22.8 million will be subject to federal estate taxes and gift taxes. Estates valued below those amounts will be exempt from federal estate taxes.

Although the costs of probate can vary greatly, in most cases the probate fees are able to be paid out of the estate itself before any assets are passed on to the beneficiaries. The probate process can take as few as six months or as long as several years depending on the size and complexity of the estate and any issues that may arise during the probate process. Because probating an estate can be complicated and requires many different documents and steps, it is highly recommend like you hire an experienced probate attorney to help you.

Is a Handwritten Will Legal in Alabama?

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. Is a handwritten will legal in Alabama?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. Handwritten Wills in AlabamaFor 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.