Our firm represents clients through all types of probate proceedings in the State of Alabama. We understand that losing a loved one is never easy, especially when faced with the seemingly dauting task of what to do with your loved one’s home, bank accounts, automobile, and personal belongings. We guide our clients through the probate process, assisting them each step of the way. We work diligently to stream line the probate process to ensure that each estate is administered in accordance with Alabama law.What is Probate?
Probate refers to the court process of settling an estate. Through this process the property of the deceased individual (referred to as “decedent”) is assessed and inventoried, the debts are paid, and the remainder of the estate is distributed to the heirs. If the decedent has a Will, this process is simplified and the estate is distributed in accordance with the Will.
One of the benefits of probate is ensuring that any creditors (or people or companies that deceased owed funds to) must come forward to file a formal claim against the estate or the debt can be extinguished by the Court. Often debt collectors and companies will hound the relatives of the deceased for debts owed by the deceased while trying to avoid this formal process. We ensure that they go through the correct legal process rather than pressure loved ones for fees and funds that may not even be owed.
In Alabama, small estates containing assets with low monetary value may be eligible for a simplified probate process called Summary Distribution of Small Estates. This process expedites the probate process for eligible estates.What if There Is Not a Will?
If your loved one died without a Will, their estate is considered “intestate.” To open a probate matter for an intestate estate, the petitioner must file a Petition for Letters of Administration and obtain a bond. Once the debts of the estate are paid, the remainder of the estate will be distributed to the heirs pursuant to Alabama law. We regularly represent families of individuals who die without a will.How Long Do I Have to Open a Probate Matter?
Alabama law states that a probate case must be opened within 5 years of a decedent’s death.How Long Does Probate Take?
Typically, the probate process takes 7-9 months to complete. The duration of the probate process may be extended beyond 9 months if there are court delays or if unforeseen issues arise in the case. The complexity of the estate and assets owned plays a significant role in how long it takes to start and close the probate process.What if There Is Real Property in Another State?
A probate case is filed in the state where the decedent died. If the estate includes real property located another state, it may be necessary to open an ancillary probate proceeding in the jurisdiction where the property is located. Ancillary proceedings are sometimes necessary, because Alabama courts do not have jurisdiction over real property in other states.
Alabama law requires a non-resident estate open an ancillary probate proceeding to establish title to any real property located in Alabama. If a non-resident’s estate does not need to be administered in their home state, then their estate can be initially administered in Alabama.What Happens to Creditors?
Once a probate proceeding is opened and Letters of Testamentary or Letters of Administration are granted, all creditors are notified. Known creditors are notified directly by the personal representative and unknown creditors are notified by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the jurisdiction where the probate case is filed. Creditors have six months to file a claim against the estate. Creditor claims against the estate are paid in the following order of preference: 1) funeral expenses, 2) fees and estate administration charges, 3) illness expenses, 4) taxes on the decedent’s estate prior to death, 5) debts to employees for services rendered the year the decedent died, and 6) all other debts. If a creditor fails to file a claim against the estate within 6 months, then they cannot collect on the debt.
If you would like to discuss your probate case with an experienced attorney, call us today for a free consultation 205-588-0699.