Alabama Last Will and Testament

Alabama Last Will and Testament

Last updated September 5th, 2023

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An Alabama last will and testament is a document that establishes how an individual’s assets will be distributed after they die. The parties that receive property from a will are known as beneficiaries, and they can either be individuals or entities such as a charity. A personal representative, also known as an executor, will be identified in the document by the testator (owner of the will) to make sure all their demands are carried out.

Any person that is 18 years or older and of sound mind may make a will.[1]

Probate Process in Alabama (8 steps)

After someone dies in Alabama, the court has five years to probate a will.[6] The University of Alabama provides a sample forms packet where individuals can file, view, and download probate court forms.

  1. Court Filing
  2. Letters of Testamentary
  3. Probate Bond (If Applicable)
  4. Notice of Appointment
  5. Inventory of Estate Assets
  6. Final Settlement
  7. Notice of Settlement (If Applicable)
  8. Court Hearing (If Applicable)

1. Court Filing

If the net value of a decedent’s estate is under $34,611,[7] the estate can avoid the probate process and file a Petition for Summary Distribution (also known as a small estate affidavit).

The probate process must be conducted through the local Probate court at least five days after the decedent’s death.[8] The personal representative appointed by the testator must file the following forms and documentation:

2. Letters Testamentary

Upon filing the Petition for Probate of Will, the personal representative will ask for the issuance of the Letters Testamentary, which grants them the authorization to handle all matters of the testator’s estate. A judge will provide the following documents to the representative:

3. Probate Bond (If Applicable)

A probate bond may be required in certain circumstances, typically either when the will requests it or the probate court demands it. The bond acts as an insurance policy to protect the estate and the beneficiaries from being defrauded by the personal representative.

The probate bond must be an amount equal to the value of the estate’s property plus one year’s estimated income.[10] A common fee amount for a bond is 0.5% of the total amount of the estate; an up-to-date quote can be obtained from the following companies:

  1. AbsoluteSurety
  2. BondExchange
  3. SuretyBondProfessionals

After the bond is obtained, a receipt must be attached to the Personal Representative’s Bond Form (Sample) and filed with the probate court.

4. Notice of Appointment

In order to allow parties to make a claim against the estate, the representative must make it known that they have been appointed to their position. They must complete the Notice of Appointment of Personal Representative (Sample) and do the following:

  • Creditors. Send a copy to every “known or reasonably ascertainable” individual and entity that has a claim against the testator within six months of receiving the Letters Testamentary.[11]
  • Publication. Publish the notice once a week for three weeks in a newspaper that is distributed within the county where the petition was filed within 30 days of the Letters Testamentary being granted.[12]

The following parties must also be notified that a petition was filed:

Any claims on the estate must be filed within six months of the notice being sent. The personal representative can check the claims docket at the court where they filed the petition to see if any claims have been filed.[14]

5. Inventory of Estate Assets

The personal representative is in charge of identifying and taking control over all the estate’s property (real, personal, bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, etc.), claiming benefits, and handling debts, taxes, and expenses.

The court gives the representative two months from their appointment date to enter all assets into the Estate Inventory List.[15] After completion, the form must be notarized and filed with the probate court.

All bequests, as well as any claims made on the estate, must be paid out before the court hearing for the final settlement is ordered.

6. Final Settlement

Six months after the Letters Testamentary were granted, the personal representative can request a final settlement from the court.[16] The representative should file one of the following types of settlement petitions:

Option 1: Petition for Final Settlement by Consent (Sample) – Used when all heirs consent to the division of the estate. A Consent to Final Settlement (Sample) form must be signed and notarized by each beneficiary and filed with the petition.

Option 2: Petition for Final Settlement (Sample) – Used when all beneficiaries do not consent to the division of the estate.

If everyone consents to the final settlement, the assets will be distributed accordingly and the court will close the matter without the need for a hearing. If not everyone consents to the settlement, a hearing date will be set (see steps 7 and 8).

7. Notice of Settlement (If Applicable)

Before the final hearing, any interested parties must be notified that the Petition for Final Settlement was filed.

8. Court Hearing (If Applicable)

A court hearing will be held when the parties do not agree on the distribution of assets, which leads to the court making the ruling on their behalf. The assets are distributed according to the judge and the personal representative will file the necessary reports and documentation confirming that the court ruling has been fulfilled.


  1. § 43-8-130
  2. § 43-8-136
  3. § 43-8-137
  4. § 43-8-131
  5. § 43-8-134
  6. § 43-8-161
  7. Alabama Memorandum (Feb 16, 2023)
  8. Estate Administration Basics (Page 2)
  9. Alabama Public Health – Death Certificates
  10. § 43-2-851(a)
  11. § 43-2-61(1)
  12. § 43-2-60(2)
  13. § 43-2-697
  14. § 43-2-350(a)
  15. § 43-2-835(a)
  16. § 43-2-501