Who Can Probate a Will in the State of Alabama?

By Beverly Bird

In Alabama, if the deceased named someone in his will to oversee probate, he is referred to as the executor or personal representative; if no one is named in the will and the court must appoint someone, he is called the administrator. Probate is the process of disposing of the testator's property according to the will’s terms. The executor or administrator must also ensure that all of the deceased’s debts and any estate taxes are paid. Anyone in possession of the will can present it for probate after the testator’s death. This person does not necessarily have to be the executor.

Named Executor

Usually, the testator names her chosen executor in her will -- and possibly an alternate executor, as well, in case the first person predeceases her or does not wish to serve. In Alabama, the court almost always approves one of these people to probate the estate.

Alternate Executor

If those named in the will are unable or unwilling to serve, a beneficiary in the will can petition the court for the job. If no beneficiary does this, then one of the deceased’s creditors can apply and may be appointed.

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Other Requirements

Alabama does not require that an executor must reside in the state as long as there is a will. However, he must be older than 19 years of age and, according to Alabama’s statutes, innocent of any “infamous” crime. If the named executor is a creditor, that debt is not discharged because he takes office.

No Will Provisions

If there is no will, the deceased is said to have died intestate. However, his property must still pass through probate. Interested parties -- anyone with a financial interest in the estate -- have 40 days to petition the court for appointment as administrator of the estate. Alabama awards the office to a surviving spouse first, followed by other relatives, including children, parents or siblings. If the testator has no living relatives willing to take the position, the job passes to the estate’s largest creditor. If the deceased had no creditors in Alabama, the county where the deceased lived probates the will in counties with populations over 400,000. In other counties, anyone willing to serve may be appointed. When there is no will, the administrator must generally be a resident of Alabama.

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