Before an heir to a property in the state of Alabama receives the final paperwork for the property, the heir must follow certain rules to officially obtain the property. The state of Alabama has strict laws governing the release of property to an heir. Not following all of the laws may result in loss of the property.
Proving a Will
Proving the will exists is one of the first laws by which an heir must abide before taking over any property. A witness to the will proves that the will exists. The witness may vouch the deceased actually signed the will. If the will is missing, the heir must probate the will. Probating a will is a legal process that determines how to divide a will by a court. Even though the will is missing, the witness to the will must still attest to the existence of the will.
Contesting a Will
Any heir is free to legally contest the validity of a will. To contest a will, the heir will visit the Circuit Court and file a formal complaint. The heir may contest the will contents and the handling process of the will. Alabama state law states the heir may only contest a will once. If the heir contested the will before, the state will not allow the heir to contest the will a second time.
The laws of Alabama allow the surviving spouse to receive the estate without contest. However, if there are any living parents of the deceased, some of the estate will go to the parents and the living spouse will receive the first $100,000 of whatever the estate balance calculates. The spouse will also receive one-half of the remaining estate balance.
A surviving spouse is not a divorced spouse at the time of death. Alabama considers a surviving spouse one that is married to the deceased at the time of death. A decree of separation is not the same as a divorce; if this is the case, the spouse was legally still married at the time of death. An annulment is considered a divorce in the state of Alabama.
The heir to an estate may disclaim the inherited property by filing a written disclaimer. A surviving joint tenant may disclaim the entire property upon their discretion. The spouse has no claim on the property if there was a joint tenant for the estate. The state of Alabama places no limitation on the stature of interest of the disclaimant. If the disclaimant wants to sell the estate for more money, it is legal to do so in the state of Alabama.