Our Birmingham probate attorneys have experience preparing wills, probating wills, and even defending or attacking wills in will contest actions.  A will contest is a lawsuit filed with the Circuit Court challenging a will that has been admitted to probate in the probate court.

In order for a will to be valid, it has to be validly executed, which means it has to be in writing and signed by the deceased in the presence of two witnesses.  Additionally, if the witnesses signatures are notarized with a notary seal, then the will is “self proving” meaning it is presumed to have been executed validly.  However, even if a will is not “self proving”, that does not mean it is unenforceable.  It simply means there is no presumption of valid execution, and valid execution must be proven through other evidence.

However, just because the will was validly executed, that does not mean it will survive a will contest.  Wills must also be validly executed by someone who has “testamentary capacity.”  In other words, the person signing the will must know what they are doing.  Ways to show the testator did not have proper capacity at the time they signed the will, include obtaining copies of their medical records to show they were being treated for mental illness, dementia, or some other infirmity of the mind.  Evidence can also be presented of witnesses that interacted with the testator near the time of the will execution who can testify of the testator’s lack of mental ability.

Wills are also contested on the basis of fraud.  The most common example of this type of will contest includes allegations that the will at issue was not created or signed by the purported testator.  In other words, wills can be contested if it is believed that the will is a fraud, and has been forged.

One of the most common forms of will contest seen by our probate attorneys in Alabama involves allegations of undue influence.   Commonly, elderly parents are cared for by one child, who lives near the parent, and whose schedule allows them to spend time with the parent.  It is not unusual for that parent to show appreciation to that child by preparing a will that gives the care taking child a larger portion of the parent’s estate than other children, and may even give them the entire estate.  In such situations, the non care taking children often become suspicious of the caretaker’s influence on the parent in creating the will and may contest the terms of the will.

If a will is successfully contested, the testators estate will either be distributed through the Alabama laws of intestacy, or through a prior valid will.

If you are involved in litigation over a will in Alabama, contact one of our Birmingham probate attorneys at Boles Holmes White to assist you and guide you through the will contest procedure.

Do you know all of the logins and passwords of your spouse’s accounts? Turns out most of Americans do not. The trend now a day’s is to have a secure financial presence on paper and in the digital world. While having important documents solely on your computer may seem like a good idea, unless the location and passwords are discussed with your spouse all your plans could never be discovered!

There are several options to allow loved ones to gain access to all financial accounts, emails, and files:

1) Create a list (preferably on paper) of all account logins and passwords.

While the usernames and passwords may change at least something is written down and there is a history of accounts and files for dependents. The list can be saved in a journal, with a will, or given to someone trustworthy.

2) Upload information to a secure system.  

Now systems exist that allow clients to upload all personal information and files to a server and once the person has deceased a spouse or dependent is able to access the information.

3) Put all important information on a secure hard drive

The drive can be locked in a safe, stored in a desk, or placed in a safety deposit box. Whatever you find best.

Overall make sure a spouse or dependent is aware of your digital presence. All your planning could never be found if passwords and logins aren’t known. Create a plan and find some method that works for you to organize your digital presence!

The idea seems crazy. Two people who have yet to be married are already thinking about their will and assets? Yes.

The big day is coming up, everyone is thinking about the gown, food, and decorations but the engaged couple should be thinking just as much on their financial future. Marriage is more than just two people coming together; their finances are merging too. Couples need to consider what to do with their accounts from before the marriage. Couples with career retirement funds, life insurance, and college funds will definitely benefit from planning ahead of time with their wills.

Having a will is something that is going to prevent chaos with an estate after the unfortunate passing of a loved one. Planning a will before marriage will allow the couples and individuals assets to be dispersed as the couple intended.

At BHW our Birmingham probate attorneys will assist you with one more thing to check off the wedding checklist before the I-Do’s. Make sure to come visit our Birmingham office to get your financial future in line.