A simple will is another term for a written last will and testament. State laws establish the legal requirements of wills. According to Alabama law, non-attorneys can draft their own wills as long as they are properly witnessed. Simple wills do not have to be notarized in Alabama, but notarized wills are often easier to execute.
Under Alabama law, a will is legally valid if it is in writing, signed by the testator and witnessed. Furthermore, only adults 18 and older can create wills. If a will is challenged by heirs or relatives, witnesses can testify that the testator signed the will without duress, undue influence or mental defect.
Most states require at least one witness to sign the will after the testator signs his will in front of her. A testator is the person who created the will. Under Section 43-8-134 of the Alabama Code, any competent individual of sound mind and body can serve as a witness. Furthermore, interested parties or parties with a beneficial interest in the will can witness the will.
Simple wills do not have to be notarized. Alabama law requires that the testator sign his will in front of at least two witnesses. As long as a testator signs his will in front of two witnesses, he does not have have it notarized. However, notarization has its own benefits, and a testator can have a notary sign the will.
Benefits of Notarization
Under Alabama law, a notarized will becomes “self-proving,” and self-proving wills are easier to probate. Generally, state probate laws require probate courts to ascertain the legal validity of wills that are presented for probate. Once an individual passes away, anyone can offer his will for probate, and the testator can name a legal executor to carry out his intent. Once an Alabama probate court receives the executor’s request to probate the testator’s will, the court will ascertain the legal validity of the will by contacting each witness who signed the will on the testator’s behalf to ensure the will was properly acknowledged and signed without duress, mental incapacity or fraud.
To self-prove a will, Alabama law requires the testator and at least two witnesses to appear before a notary public and sign an affidavit in front of her. They must each sign an affidavit stating that they knew they were signing a legal document, and that they knew the testator was executing a will.
Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.