To create a valid will in Alabama, there are several requirements that must be met to ensure the will is legally binding. Here are the key requirements for a will in Alabama:
Age and Capacity: The person making the will (the testator) must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind or mentally competent at the time of creating the will. They should understand the nature of the document they are creating and the consequences of its provisions.
Writing: The will must be in writing, whether typed or handwritten (holographic), and it should be signed by the testator. Oral or nuncupative wills (spoken wills) are generally not valid in Alabama unless they meet specific conditions for military personnel or mariners.
Signature: The testator must sign the will at the end of the document. If the testator is physically unable to sign, they can direct someone else to sign on their behalf in the testator's presence and at their request. This must be done in the presence of at least two witnesses.
Witness Requirements: Two or more competent witnesses must witness the testator signing the will or acknowledging their signature. These witnesses should be disinterested parties, meaning they should not be beneficiaries or heirs under the will. The witnesses should also sign the will in the presence of the testator and each other.
Testamentary Intent: The document must clearly indicate that it is intended to serve as the testator's will and express their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets upon their death.
Revocation and Amendment: If the testator wishes to revoke or amend their will, they can do so by executing a new will that complies with the requirements listed above. Alternatively, they can make specific revocations or amendments through a codicil, which is an additional document that must meet the same formalities as a will.
Self-Proving Affidavit: While not required, it is advisable to include a self-proving affidavit with the will. A self-proving affidavit is a statement signed by the testator and witnesses before a notary public, confirming that the will was executed in compliance with Alabama law. This can make the probate process smoother and reduce the need for witnesses to appear in court later.
It's important to note that if the testator fails to meet these requirements, their will may be considered invalid, and their estate may be distributed according to Alabama's laws of intestate succession. To ensure your will is properly executed and legally valid, it is recommended to consult with an attorney experienced in estate planning and will drafting. Legal advice can help you avoid potential pitfalls and ensure that your wishes are carried out as intended.