Dedicated Probate Attorney Helping Citizens in Jasper and North Alabama Navigate the Probate Process
Probate refers to the method by which your estate is administered and processed through Alabama’s legal system after you die. Probate proceedings ensure that your estate is transferred in a formal and regulated manner and that certain guidelines are followed — any outstanding debts and taxes, for example, must be paid before your beneficiaries receive their inheritance. There are numerous steps to Alabama’s probate process, the details of which are briefly summarized below.
The Role of the Executor in Alabama
Your executor will file a “petition for probate” with the probate court in the county in which you lived. If you left a will, your executor must demonstrate its validity, usually accomplished by having witnesses sign a sworn statement and submitting it to the court. Keep in mind that the personal representative named in your will or determined by the court must first be formally appointed by the court before officially entering into office. Once your executor has been approved by the court, often through the issuance of a Letter of Testamentary, he or she may then begin the process of gathering your estate’s assets.
More often than not, the executor can take care of most matters without having to get permission from the probate court. This means that the executor can usually sell estate property, pay taxes and approve or reject claims from creditors without judicial oversight. Certain acts, however, still require court approval pursuant to Alabama state law (i.e. selling real estate).
During probate, the executor is obligated to keep all assets safe. For instance, the decedent’s home must be insured and properly maintained, and all assets to be inherited must be safeguarded from theft and/or damage. The executor is also responsible for filing tax returns on behalf of the decedent as well as the estate.
What About My Creditors?
Many estates don’t receive any formal claims from creditors, with the executor simply paying any outstanding bills instead. If there is not enough money to pay every claim, however, the state will intervene in determining the order in which claims are to be paid from your estate’s assets. Finally, after all outstanding bills and taxes have been paid, the executor may ask the court to close the estate. That’s when the executor can distribute all remaining estate assets to those named in the will.
Attorney Don Bevill is aware of the need to employ his services with sensitivity and diplomacy, especially when seeking to resolve intrafamily conflict. Don is determined to resolve such matters sooner rather than later, providing affordable assistance for those who need it most.