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Estate Planning

Probate/Administration

Probate refers to a court proceeding wherein a decedent's creditors are paid and the remaining assets are distributed according to the decedent's will. Administration is also a court proceeding wherein a decedent's creditors are paid but assets are distributed according to Alabama's Intestacy statutes.


Are all of my assets subject to probate?

The way assets are "titled" determine whether they are subject to the probate process. Assets that avoid probate are assets owned jointly with right of survivorship or life estates, assets with beneficiary designations (retirement, life insurance and "transfer on death" or "payable on death" accounts), and assets owned in trust.

My father left everything to me. Do I get all of his estate?

All of the property of the decedent is charged with the payment of his debts, and if necessary, may be sold for that purpose.

Who gets paid first?

Assets are distributed from the estate in a specific order.

  1. Homestead exemption ($6,000)
  2. Family allowance
  3. Exempt property ($3,500)
  4. Funeral expenses
  5. Fees and charges of administration
  6. Expenses of the last sickness
  7. Taxes assessed on the estate of the decedent previous to his death
  8. Debts due to employees
  9. Other debts

Do I need to hire an attorney to probate an estate?

Probating an estate is more complicated than writing a will. You will need to hire an attorney to probate an estate.

How much does it cost to probate an estate?

Probating an estate requires a filing fee to the Probate Judge, an ad in a local newspaper and attorney's fees. The Personal Representative is also entitled to a fee. The costs vary with locality.

What does "per stirpes" mean?

Literally it means by branch. In essence, it allows grandchildren of a deceased parent to inherit their parent's share from a deceased grandparent. For example, if Albert had 3 children, Brett, Claire and David, and Brett died 4 years ago survived by his wife Ethel and their two children Frank and Grace and Albert's will left everything to his 3 children, then Claire and David would each get a third, Frank and Grace would split Brett's third, and. Ethel would get nothing.

Will my daughter-in-law get any of my estate?

If you leave your estate to your son but he dies before you, his wife is not entitled to his share. Your son's share would go to his children, if any.