A testator, or person who writes a will, typically appoints an executor to administer the terms of his will upon his death. When the testator dies, the executor must file the will for probate in the appropriate court. Probate gives creditors and potential heirs the opportunity to file claims against the estate. The time period for making claims against the estate, however, is not unlimited.
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Any person over the age of 18 that is competent can draft a will in Alabama. However, for the will to be legally valid, it must meet certain requirements under Alabama law. First, the will must be in writing and signed by the testator. In addition, two witnesses who witnessed the testator signing it or witnessed the testator acknowledge that he signed it must also sign the will. The testator must designate a personal representative, or executor, to execute the will upon the his death.
The executor owes a fiduciary duty to the decedent’s estate. That means she must, at all times, make decisions that are in the estate’s best interest. The personal representative has several responsibilities, including filing the will for probate, making sure any remaining debts or obligations are satisfied by the estate, and distributing the estate’s assets pursuant to the instructions in the will.
The executor must inventory the estate within two months of filing the petition for probate. In addition, the executor must post a bond before the probate judge and provide notice to any and all interested parties to allow them an opportunity to make a claim against the estate.
The Alabama Probate Code governs all aspects of probate in the state. Probate is a judicial process where the court declares whether the will filed for probate is valid, then has the responsibility of ensuring that the executor administers the estate consistent with Alabama’s laws. In addition, the court has to ensure that the executor pays all necessary taxes. If individuals or companies make claims against the estate and a dispute arises with the executor, then the probate court adjudicates the dispute.