Tag Archive for: Probate

Reasons you should form an estate plan. Every individual, regardless of age or financial status, should consult an estate planning attorney to determine what happens upon their passing. The purpose of this plan is to anticipate and arrange for the disposal of assets in an organized manner. Often, questions arise concerning probate. Furthermore, inadequate tax planning leaves heirs with a bill they did not expect to have to pay. The wills and probate attorney works to minimize these problems. Therefore, helping clients establish a plan that outlines exactly what is to be done with every aspect of the estate. Doing so ensures the last wishes of the departed are followed exactly, whenever possible.

Financial Stability

Upon a person’s demise, family and friends are dealing with grief. Money is the last thing they wish to be worrying about. Although, this is often the case when a person passes away without an estate plan. The plan works to provide financial stability and support during a difficult time. In addition, ensuring assets are distributed in a timely manner, without a long drawn out legal battle.

Wealth Preservation

The transfer of assets may be accompanied by taxes and expenses. An experienced estate planning attorney works to ensure these taxes and expenses are minimized. Offering suggestions on how to reduce or eliminate the associated fees. For example, when an asset is left to a spouse or qualified charity, it won’t be subject to the estate tax. Assets left to other individuals, in excess of a certain amount, will be subject to this tax. Yet taxes may be reduced by distributing the estate before the person’s demise.

Long Term Care

Individuals now live longer than previous generations. As a result, many people need long-term care, and an estate plan helps with this. The plan outlines how this care will be paid for and also explains how matters should be handled in the event the person creating the plan can no longer manage his or her affairs. The plan may include a living will or a power of attorney. The attorney works with his or her client to determine what documents are needed in their particular situation.

The Establishing Of Trusts

Certain family members need care throughout their lifetime, and an estate plan can be used to establish one or more trusts to pay for this care. For example, physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled family members benefit from a special needs trust—one that ensures they get continuing care. For those individuals who cannot manage their finances, a spendthrift trust may be established that prevents the squandering of money. Other trust options are also offered, and an attorney helps in determining which is best for each scenario.


When a will is contested, it becomes public record. With the help of an estate plan, individuals ensure their information remains private. What they chose to do with their assets won’t be common knowledge, as the estate plan details this information. In the event there are disputes before a person’s demise, mediation may be of help in resolving these issues. This may be included in the estate plan to ensure there aren’t disputes following the person’s departure from this life that lead to information becoming public.

Although some individuals believe they can create a plan of this type without assistance, as their assets are limited, it’s always best to consult an estate planning attorney. Small mistakes in the plan often lead to costly delays, higher taxes, or other issues upon a person’s demise. The attorney works to ensure the plan clearly details the wishes of the person creating the plan and does so in a way that the will becomes harder to contest. Contact an attorney today to learn more about estate law services, as your family and friends will have enough to deal with when you depart. They don’t need a legal battle also.

Will Contests in Alabama. 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”. Therefore, 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.  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 or dementia.  Evidence can also be presented of witnesses that interacted with the testator near the time of the will execution. However, 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. 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. Furthermore, 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.