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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

At Risk For Probate In Alabama? Watch Out For These Mistakes

Have you just completed your Alabama estate plan? Are you confident that when you pass away your estate will not have to go through the probate? It is excellent that you have an Alabama last will and testament. However, the fact that you have a will does not, by itself, allow your estate to avoid probate. This is one mistake we see in our office when the probate process is misunderstood. 

1.It is a mistake to think that having a last will and testament will allow you to avoid probate. A last will and testament could be considered a set of instructions for your personal representative, who you selected when you created your will. This set of instructions in your will advises everyone in regard to the distribution of all of your assets, whether those assets include a house, a vehicle, bank or brokerage accounts or personal items. Even though the instructions are written down in your will it does not change the fact that the assets may be subject to probate. Your personal representative must still probate the will, and this may take time and money from your estate. If you want to keep your assets out of probate, you should consider another estate planning tool you can put in place.

2. It is a mistake to not put all your assets into a trust. You may have met with your Alabama estate planning attorney and learned that a revocable trust may be a good way to avoid putting your estate through probate. With the advice of your Alabama estate planning attorney you created a revocable trust and put your assets into the trust. You are now all set and no longer have to think about your estate and probate. Unfortunately, this is not always true. When you created your trust you put all of your assets into a revocable trust at the time the trust was created. As time passes, you may sell some of your assets and acquire other assets and forget to update your trust by putting your new assets into your trust. Crucial information, only assets in the trust will avoid probate! Any other assets you may have acquired but forgot to put into the trust will have to go through probate.

3. It is a mistake to have conflicting information in your estate plan. Be sure that what you wrote in your will matches the terms of your trust. If the two documents do not match, your trust may prevail. However, any inconsistencies may be reviewed by a probate court for final determination.

At the end of the day, estate planning is not just for you. Instead, it is for the ones you love most. If we can answer any questions for you on putting this estate planning in place, please do not hesitate to let us know. For more information, please reach out to our office and schedule a time to meet.


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