If you’ve seen one Will, you’ve seen them all. This might seem to make sense until you consider the fact that states frequently exercise their right to enact their own laws. People are told that everyone needs an estate plan or at least a Will, but Wills have to comply with the laws of the state in which they are signed … or probated. If you signed a Will in a state other than Alabama, will your out-of-state Will work in Alabama?
How Do Alabama Laws Affect Your Will?
Alabama laws regarding estate planning, Wills, and probate are contained in the Code of Alabama. Here’s what the law says about Wills:
- Anyone who is age 18 or older and of mind can make a Will.
- Valid Wills are in writing, signed by the testator or someone directed to sign by the testator who signs in the testator’s presence.
- A Will must be signed by at least two people who have witnessed the signing of the Will in the presence of the testator and each other.
- Witnesses to the Will must be competent to act as witnesses.
Some state invalidate Wills if witnesses to the Will stand to benefit from the estate, as heirs for example. While Alabama does not follow this practice, it is best to use disinterested witnesses.
Alabama Code does consider an out-of-state Will to be valid if the Will is valid under the other state’s laws.
Why Is it Important to Have a Valid Will?
Consider the alternatives:
- If you leave a valid Will, your estate will pass through probate. Your possessions should be distributed according to the terms of your Will. For example, if your Will states that you want half of your estate to go to your youngest daughter and the other to the SPCA, that’s how your estate should be split.
- If you do not have a valid Alabama Will at the time of your death, your estate will pass according to the intestacy laws of Alabama. So, the state will decide who gets what from your estate. It will not be split according to your final wishes.
Leaving an Invalid Out-of-State Will Is Like Leaving No Will at All
Why take a chance? Play it safe and have Attorney Bruce Adams review your estate plan.
Attorney Adams is an attorney who knows how to listen to his client’s estate planning concerns and provide advice they can use. Please contact Bruce at 256-237-3339 to set up an appointment. Our office is located in Anniston, Alabama, but we assist clients in surrounding communities like Gadsden, Hoover, Talladega, Vestavia Hills.