In Alabama, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone determines what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you actually want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for actually implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these objectives.
In addition to decisions regarding the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For instance, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your choice on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such decisions for you, if you are unable.
A qualified estate planner in Alabama may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Furthermore, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in Alabama
Estate plans in Alabama almost always have these elements:
Will: A will permits you to control what is done with your property after your death. You can generally give your property to whoever you want, and make these gifts conditional. However, a will can only control another person's behavior insofar as placing conditions on gifts ("you don't get this money unless you spend the night in a haunted house"). The beneficiary doesn't HAVE to do anything if they don't want to, and are willing to surrender the money or property you left them.
Power of Attorney: This is a legal document in which you give some other person (usually a family member) the ability to make decisions (often related to money or healthcare) on your behalf if you become incapable of doing so.
Funeral Arrangements: Obviously, deciding what you want done with your mortal remains is a very personal decision. Nonetheless, once you have made this decision, you should put it in writing, in some place other than your will. You should also make your wishes known to your family members. This is because wills are usually not read until days or weeks after the testator dies, by which time it may be too late to carry out their wishes on this matter.
Do I Need an Alabama Estate Planning Attorney?
To most people, these issues are crucial to their peace of mind during life. Therefore, it's very important to make them with the help of a reputable Alabama attorney, to make sure that they have the best possible chance of being implemented.
Interesting Facts About Alabama
Alabama, the "Yellowhammer State", is situated in the southeastern portion of the U.S. Like many southern states, Alabama began as a primarily agriculture-centered locale. Today it is home to many businesses, particularly high-tech industries. The presence of several military installations also helps to boost Alabama's work force. Alabama's Unified Judicial System is one of the oldest networks of courts in the country.
The state of Alabama is well-noted for its state Constitution. Ratified in 1901, the Alabama Constitution contains over 300,000 words and nearly 800 amendments. This makes it the lengthiest constitution in the entire world. It is about 40 times the length of the United States Constitution. The Alabama Constitution is unique among state constitutions as it grants a great amount of power to the central government and much less power to local authorities.
Alabama's Unified Judicial System operates the state's courts in accordance with the Alabama Constitution. The judicial system is made up of Municipal and District Courts spread out throughout the state. There are also Circuit Courts, a Court of Appeals (Civil and Criminal), and the Alabama Supreme Court. The mission of the Unified Judicial System is to be "the most successful judiciary in the nation".
Lawyers in Alabama contribute to the state's success by providing legal services in strict accordance with high professional standards. Alabama lawyers are trained to handle a diverse array of legal claims and inquiries. The services of an Alabama lawyer are often necessary when dealing with the state's distinct body of laws.