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Wills and Estate Planning

What is Estate Planning?

Would you like to create a plan to ensure your loved ones, your health, and your property are taken care of in accordance with your preferences? Estate planning is about taking control of your future. You owe it to your family to plan for the future by creating an estate plan. No one wants to consider their death or the possibility of future disability. However, creating an estate plan is a necessary step to take care of your loved ones. As an estate planning attorney, I can help you create an extensive, all-inclusive estate plan taking into account the most important aspects of your future.

Estate planning is the process of developing a plan for the management of your lifetime financial and healthcare decision making authority and the eventual distribution of your property.

The Tools to Create an Excellent Estate Plan

The term estate planning is used as a coverall term in recognition that there is no one size fits all plan. The tools we use to create the plan and how we use them are dictated by your particular needs. While a simple will together with a durable power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney may be sufficient for some, others may benefit from more complex inheritance tax planning or trust planning. The legal documents I frequently use to develop an estate plan are:

Benefits of Estate Planning

If you live in Alabama, and you don’t make a will, there is a set of laws that decide who inherits your property, who has priority to oversee your estate, and how that person administers your estate. This default Alabama estate plan generally doesn’t reflect what most people want.

For example, Ala. Code § 43-8-41 and § 43-8-42 provide that if someone dies without a will leaving a surviving spouse and children of the marriage, the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $50,000 of the value of the estate with anything exceeding $50,000 split between the surviving spouse and children. Considering the difficult situation a surviving spouse is placed in, most individuals would want their surviving spouse to inherit everything, especially considering that the surviving children are the surviving spouse’s own children. If someone dies without a will leaving a surviving spouse with no children and the parents of the deceased are still living, Ala. Code § 43-8-41 and § 43-8-42 provide that the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $100,000 of the value of the estate with anything exceeding $100,000 split between the surviving spouse and the parents of the deceased. Worse yet, for a cohabitating, unmarried couple, the surviving partner likely has no right to the probate estate of the deceased partner unless the deceased partner leaves a will.

In Alabama, with a properly drafted will, you can choose the executor of your estate, waive the requirement of your executor to post a bond, waive the requirement of your executor to provide an inventory of the estate, and grant your executor the power to sell property of the estate without requesting permission from the court.

Without a will, a number of people have a right to serve as the person carrying out your estate (the administrator) according to a statutory order of priority. The administrator is required to post a bond at the expense of the estate. An inventory of the estate must be filed which becomes a part of the court file open to the public. Additionally, to sell any property belonging to the estate, (even to distribute the proceeds of the sale among the heirs) the administrator must petition the court to approve the sale.

For more information or to setup an appointment to talk with me about how I can help, call me direct at (251) 215-9275

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