A simple will is another term for your written last wishes. State laws establish the legal requirements of wills. According to Alabama law, non-attorneys can draft their wills as long as the required parties properly witness the documents. Simple wills do not have to be notarized in Alabama, but notarized wills are often easier to execute.
Alabama Laws on Wills
Specific conditions must be fulfilled to make your last will and testament valid in Alabama.
Under Alabama law, a will is legally valid if it is in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed. That includes wills which are that are handwritten. Furthermore, only adults 18 and older who are of sound mind can create wills. If heirs or relatives challenge a will, 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 the will. In this case, a testator is a person who created the will. However, in Alabama, there must be two witnesses who sign the will to make it valid. These witnesses must be present, even if your will is handwritten, and people can recognize that you are responsible for writing it.
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. But it is never a good idea to have witnesses who are also named beneficiaries in your will.
It’s also worth noting that oral wills are not valid in the state of Alabama. However, if the cannot sign the will, they can have a representative sign it in front of two witnesses. Such a situation could arise if you become too ill to do it on your own.
You should also bear in mind that Alabama neither authorizes statutory nor electronic wills.
Notary Requirements for Wills
Simple wills do not have to be notarized in Alabama so long as the testator signs the will in front of at least two witnesses. The only exception is when you opt for a self-proving will in Alabama. That will includes a self-proving affidavit. But notarization has its benefits, and a testator can have a notary sign the will.
Self-Proving Wills in Alabama
A self-proving will in Alabama is the best way to safeguard the interests of the beneficiaries. 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 that official. They must each sign an affidavit stating that they knew they were signing a legal document and knew the testator was executing a will. A notary seal is then affixed to certify their actions.
Self-proving a will means the courts don’t have to contact witnesses and inquire about the validity of the will one makes.
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. And during the probate process, the will’s validity will have to be proven.
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. The goal of the court is to ensure the will was properly acknowledged and signed without duress, mental incapacity, or fraud.
However, if the will is invalidated, the probate courts will oversee the distribution of the testator’s property according to the Alabama probate laws. So, the deceased may end up not getting their last wishes fulfilled, which means some beneficiaries may miss out on what they should have inherited.
Therefore, by notarizing a will, the probate process becomes easier for all parties concerned. And beneficiaries are more likely to get what is due to them without the state stepping in.
Considerations for Will Rules
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.
- Justia: 2020 Code of Alabama Title 43 - Wills and Decedents' Estates. Chapter 8 - Probate Code. Article 7 - Wills Generally. Division 1 - Execution of Will. Section 43-8-130 - Who May Make a Will.
- FindLaw: Alabama Wills Laws
- Casetext: Ala. Code § 43-8-134
- Dentons: Wills- Alabama
- Alabama Probate Solutions: How to Probate a Will in Alabama
- NOLO: How to Make a Will in Alabama
- The Harris Firm LLC: Is a Handwritten Will Legal in Alabama?
Jill Stimson has worked in various property management positions in Maryland and Delaware. Stimson worked for the top three property management companies in the commercial industry and focuses her career on property building logistics and tenant relationships. She holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.