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Nolan Elder Law and Estate Planning, LLC Blog

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What To Expect When Probating A Will

In Alabama, there are multiple steps involved with the probate of a will.  First, it is important to gather as much information about the testator, the person who drafted the will, as possible, prior to your attempt at submitting the will to court.  Often times, the testator names the person he or she would like to take care of the estate upon his or her death.  In order to put the will through the probate process, the designated individual, or executor, must locate the decedent’s last known residence and obtain certain documents, such as a “certified copy” of the testator’s death certificate, the original will, and codicils to the will.  

Additionally, various petitions to the probate court must be made in order for probate to begin and for “Letters Testamentary” to be issued.  Letters Testamentary will provide the personal representative with legal authority to act on the testator’s behalf.  The typical duties of a personal representative of the will is to distribute the assets named within the document, take care of all debts accrued by the estate, and otherwise carry out the intentions of the testator.  Furthermore, the probate of the will is typically required to be published within a newspaper to notify any interested creditors.   

A licensed probate attorney can inform you if there is any way to avoid a hearing in court.  For example, if there is no dispute between the beneficiaries designated under the will, you are likely to be eligible for a waiver of a hearing.  Depending on your state’s requirements, a document would need to be signed and submitted to court.  However, if a provision is disputed, the will can be delayed in probate for a multitude of reasons.  For example, each state has certain rules regarding how a will must be witnessed.  If the will is not sufficient, the judge may require the witnesses to sign a subsequent document to prove the will.  An attorney may be able to help prevent this delay by executing a “self-proving” will at the outset.  Consult an attorney to ensure that the probate of the will is as efficient as possible. 

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