Did you know that the State of Alabama has already prepared your estate plan for you? It is true. If you do not leave clear instructions for how your estate should be handled after your death, you can rest assured that there is a state law that will do it for you. Under the Alabama Intestate Succession laws, there are default rules that determine who will inherit your estate, who can be in charge of acting as your representative, and what happens if your heirs should predecease you. Most people would prefer not to allow the government to decide these things.
Therefore, it is up to you to set forth your intentions while you are still alive. There are generally two ways to do this – wills and trusts. An experienced Alabama estate planning attorney can work with you to make sure your intentions are clearly expressed.
An Alabama last will and testament allows you to let the world know exactly how you want your estate to be handled upon your passing. While some attorneys and online resources may use the term “simple will,” there are few situations in which a will is a “simple” document. In fact, properly drafted by a skilled attorney, a will can do quite a lot of things. For instance, here are just a few things a well-crafted will can achieve:
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, as there are plenty of other things a will can do in specific situations. However, there are also things a will cannot do. For example, a will cannot:
For each of these things, you would need a trust.
A trust is a living document that can be created in order to benefit people while they are still alive, as well as control the disbursement of assets over a longer period of time. In other words, a trust is a detailed instrument that can create incentives for heirs, control or prevent spendthrifts from inheriting money, or even help a family avoid tax burdens. Some trusts can even help your family while you are still alive.
In truth, a trust is one of the most flexible and useful legal documents available for estate planning purposes, and it can generally be customized to fit your unique needs. The best part is, a trust can often help you avoid probate, keeping your assets and your legacy private and out of the courts.