What is a Will?

A Will is a document that provides the manner in which a person’s
property will be distributed when he dies. A person who dies after
writing a Will is said to have died testate.

Who may make a Will?

In Alabama, the maker of a Will must be: (1) be at least 18 years
old; (2) of sound mind; and (3) free from improper influences by
other people.

How do I make a Will?

A Will must meet certain requirements set by the State to be
considered valid. The Will must be written, signed by the maker, and
witnessed by two (2) people in the manner required by the law.

May I dispose of my property in any way I desire by making a Will?

Almost, but not quite. There are some limitations set by law to
avoid placing hardships on the people who survive the deceased. For
example, a married person cannot completely exclude the other spouse
from sharing in the estate. A lawyer can best explain all of the
limitations.

How do I know if I need to write a will?

Any amount of property which you own constitutes your estate.
Generally, the size of your estate and your family circumstances
determine whether you need a Will. An estate does not have to be any
particular size to justify a Will. If you have young children, or
property which you would like to assure will be given to certain
people, then you should consider writing a Will.

When do I need to write a will?

A Will should be written while the maker is in good health and free
from any emotional distress. A prudent person does not wait for a
catastrophe or other compelling reason to make a decision.

Who may draft a will?

There is no requirement that a person consult a lawyer before
drafting their own will. However, the proper drafting of a Will can
be a delicate operation, and it is best to consult someone who has
experience. A lawyer can make sure that your Will is legal, and that
your property will be given to the people that you intended. A
lawyer can also help construct a Will so that your family saves
money in administering the estate, and reduces their taxes.

Is a Will expensive?

A lawyer will usually charge for a Will according to the time spent
in preparing the Will. If you have a small estate and a simple plan
for distributing your property, then your Will should cost less than
one for a large, complex estate with several people receiving
property.

MAY A WILL BE CHANGED ONCE IT IS WRITTEN?

A person may change his Will as often as he desires. However, the
changes must meet the same requirements listed above for the
original Will. No change should be made without first consulting the
person who drafted the Will.

How long is my will “good”?

A properly written and executed Will is “good” until it is changed
or revoked. Writing a second Will usually revokes the first Will.
However, if there is a change in your estate or your family makeup,
you may consider changing your existing Will or writing a new Will.
For example, if you sell your house you may need to change your Will
to reflect the change in your estate.

What should I do with my Will once it is written?

Once you have written your Will, you should keep it in a safe place,
such as a safety deposit box at a bank. You should also let your
family know where the Will is so that they can find it when you die.