What is a will? – Anniston Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorneys

Serving Families and Individuals in the Anniston, Gadsden, and Talladega, AL Areas


photo: Wills

A Will (Last Will and Testament) is a document that tells the world what you want done with your money and other assets when you pass away. A Will is an essential document to have in your Alabama estate plan. In the will, you name someone to handle your estate when you pass away. That person is known as the personal representative or executor. You also decide who gets what property when you die – those people are known as the beneficiaries and are usually your heirs. The personal administrator is the person who takes the will to the probate court to have the will probated. Drafting a will is an essential part of the estate planning process for any wills and estates lawyer.

To learn more about Wills or Estate Planning and Elder Law in Alabama, click the link to register for one of our free Estate Planning Workshops OR call us at 256-792-3193 to register. You can also visit www.AlabamaEstatePlanningGuide.com to get a copy of our book The Basics of Estate Planning in Alabama.

The advantage to having a will is that your property goes to the people that you want to leave it to. If you die without a will in Alabama, the State of Alabama decides who gets your assets when you pass away. That process is known as the administration or probate of your estate. Having a will allows you not only to determine who gets your property but can also save a lot of fees and expenses that are incurred in the probate process in Alabama if you die without a will.

A will still has to go through probate court which can be a lengthy and expensive process, but it is much better than having no will at all. It is also important to know that your will only applies to those assets you own in your own name when you pass away. Assets you own in your own name at the time of your death are known as your probate estate. If you own an asset that is owned joint with right of survivorship in Alabama (like real estate) or that has beneficiary designations on it, that asset will pass directly to the other person and not through the will. This can cause problems at the time of your death if it results in one child/heir getting more than you intended. As wills and estates lawyers, we see unintended consequences like this all of the time.

Having a will minimizes the strife among your loved ones when you pass away. However, the will needs to be properly drafted by and experience estate planning and elder law attorney and be part of your overall estate plan or it can create more unintended problems at your death.

A will only becomes effective when you pass away. It has no legal effect while you are still alive. We have had people contact us with a mother who is incompetent and they need to act. However, they often do not have a power of attorney but do have their mother's will. The power of attorney in Alabama is valid only while the person is alive; the will is only effective when you pass away. Therefore, they are not able to act on her behalf. If you want peace of mind, it is important to have a comprehensive estate plan that has all the documents that are necessary to carry out your wishes no matter what happens.

To learn more about Wills or Estate Planning and Elder Law in Alabama, click the link to register for one of our free Estate Planning Workshops OR call us at 256-792-3193 to register. You can also visit www.AlabamaEstatePlanningGuide.com to get a copy of our book The Basics of Estate Planning in Alabama.

Adams Miller, LLP

256-237-3339

Address: 22 E. 12th St
Anniston, AL 36201

bill@adamsmillerlaw.com

View Map