5 Quick Alabama Probate Answers
Is Alabama probate necessary?
The answer will depend on your specific circumstances! The primary consideration is how assets are titled. If the deceased person had Alabama assets that are in his or her name alone, chances are that Alabama probate is required. This is the first thing we go over in our free telephone consultation.
Do I need to hire a Alabama probate attorney?
Probably. Alabama probate is not a do-it-yourself project. While there is no legal rule preventing you from representing yourself, Alabama probate proceedings involve complex legal rules and fiduciary duties that can get you in trouble if not handled correctly. In our experience, Alabama probate courts uniformly recommend that you engage an Alabama probate attorney to help you with the estate. Take a look at the Mobile County Probate Court’s Personal Representative Handbook for more information).
How much will probate cost?
We would need more information to answer this question. The costs of Alabama probate can vary depending on how much work will be required. See Value Pricing for more information on our approach to attorney’s fees.
How long will Alabama probate take?
The Alabama estate must remain open for a period of 6 months to allow creditors to submit claims. This makes it impossible to close an estate in less than 6 months. And given that it takes a little time to get the estate open and file the documents to close the estate, an 8 to 10 month timeframe is a reasonable ballpark for simple estates.
Do you handle probate work in ______ County?
Yes! We can handle probate matters in all of Alabama’s probate courts. But we only handle uncontested probate matters and we only represent personal representatives. We do not represent or correspond with heirs or beneficiaries of Alabama estates that are not personal representatives of the estates. Being selective about the clients we take allows us to focus on moving uncontested estates through the Alabama probate as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible.
A Crash Course in Being a Personal Representative
What is a Personal Representative?
In order to open an Alabama estate for probate, someone must be appointed by the court to act on behalf of the estate. This person or organization is called a personal representative (PR). A PR is also known as an executor (if there is a will) or administrator (if there is no will).
Must I Serve as Personal Representative?
No. It’s up to you whether to serve as PR. If you are unwilling or unable to do so, no one can force you. This is so even if the decedent left an Alabama Last Will and Testament naming you to serve as executor. You can always decline and allow someone else to assume the role.
What is the Role of the Personal Representative in Alabama?
The PR’s role is to oversee estate administration, including managing the Alabama probate estate for the benefit of interested parties. This generally includes collecting all of the estate assets, paying all estate obligations, and distributing any remaining assets to the beneficiaries. See Alabama Executor Duties for more information.
Who Can Serve as Personal Representative in Alabama?
If the decedent left a valid Last Will and Testament, it should name a person or organization to serve as PR (executor). If that person is willing and able, he or she usually serves as PR of the estate. If not, then other PRs named in the will have the option of serving in the order named. If the will does not name a PR (or if all PRs named are unwilling or unable to serve), any other person with an interest in the estate or who has custody of the will can ask to be appointed as PR.
If the decedent died without a will (intestate), the court appoints someone to serve as PR (administrator) of the estate. The PR cannot be under age 19, a convict of an “infamous” crime (whatever that means), or be mentally or otherwise unfit to serve. Preference is given to the following individuals:
- “Next of kin” (an archaic term used to refer to the heirs of the estate);
- Largest in-state creditor of the estate;
- Any other person, except that in counties of over 400,000 persons, the county or general administrator is next in line behind the largest in-state creditor of the state.
Under the last category, the county administrator has priority over the general public in Mobile and Jefferson County estates.
If the spouse, heirs, or largest in-state creditor fails to petition the probate court for letters of administration within 40 days, their right to priority is waived. The probate court will then appoint either the county administrator or any other qualified person who requests letters of administration. This “other qualified person” could still include the spouse or heirs, but they would no longer be entitled to priority.
Must the Personal Representative be an Alabama Resident?
If the decedent left a will naming a PR, that person need not be a resident of Alabama. But if there is no will, the PR must be an Alabama resident unless he or she has already been appointed to serve as PR in another state.