When someone dies leaving behind a last will and testament, the will must then go through the probate process. This process involves the court supervising how the estate property is distributed in accordance with the laws of the state of Alabama. Probating a will can be difficult, but you can do it yourself. While a probate attorney is often needed, especially for complicated estates, you must follow the state probate laws no matter if you have a lawyer or not.
Get the will. You can only probate will once the testator, the person who made the will, dies. Alabama Code § 43-8-160 requires anyone in custody of the will to present it to the court for probate. If you are in possession of the will when the testator dies, get your copy of the will and make sure it is complete.
File the will. Once you have the will, Alabama Code § 43-8-162(1) requires that you take it to the county courthouse in the county where the decedent kept his residence, not where he died. If the testator didn't live in Alabama, you can file the will in any county where the testator owned property.
Prove the will. Once you take the will to the correct courthouse, you may have to prove it. Alabama Code § 43-8-167 allows you to sign an affidavit and affirm, under oath, that you believe the will is the person's last will and testament. Some wills are self proven, meaning there are attached affidavits provided by the testator and witnesses. If the will is self proven, you won't have to submit your affidavit when filing it with the probate clerk.
Await the court's decision. Once the will is filed, the court will read it and determine who to appoint as personal representative. Alabama Code § 43-8-164 requires a 10-day waiting period between filing of the and when the court can make a decision. Once the court names personal representative, it grants this person the legal authority to start distributing estate assets through the granting of Letters of Testamentary.
Distribute the property. If you have been named as the personal representative, it is your duty to take an inventory of all the estate assets and notify any interested party of the process. After this, you'll have to pay the debts and distribute any remaining property in accordance with the terms of the will.