What happens if I die without a Will?
Assets titled as joint owners with right of survivorship will pass to the surviving owner(s). Assets left under death beneficiary designation(s) pass to the person(s) named as the death beneficiary(ies). All other assets pass pursuant to the Alabama Intestate Statute to the heirs listed in said statute which may or may not be the same individuals that you would name. To pass pursuant to the Alabama Intestate Statute, an estate must be opened with the probate court which will require at a minimum the appointment of an administrator for the estate, the posting of a bond, and the providing of an inventory. Costs and expenses which generally can be waived by a properly drafted will. A properly drafted will can also state your preference for the person(s) who you desire to be the guardian and conservatorship for your minor children.
What happens to my minor children if I become physically or mentally incapacitated due to an accident or illness?
If there is no surviving parent, the State of Alabama will initially be responsible for the well-being of your children. You can name a relative or other trusted person to care for your children through a correctly drafted provision in a durable power of attorney.
What is the purpose of Estate Planning?
The primary purposes of estate planning is to assure that your assets are distributed after your death to individual(s) or charitable organization(s) that you have specified. Successful estate planning results in your assets being transferred economically and quickly and with minimal tax consequences.
Who needs a trust?
(a) Individuals with beneficiaries who need help such as an elderly beneficiary with special needs or a relative who does not manage his or her money well.
(b) Individuals who own property that cannot be easily divided among multiple beneficiaries such as a vacation home.
(c) Individuals who want to provide for a relative but are wary of that relative’s spouse.
(d) Individuals with young children.
(e) Individuals with substantial assets who want to avoid or reduce taxes.