Estate Planning

Over the years I've learned that, for many people, estate planning is one of those items on your "to-do" list that you just never seem to get around to. Unfortunately, this often leads to scenarios where someone dies without any real plan of what to do with their estate, which can lead to the courts making decisions about who gets what. When it comes time to sit down and actually outline a will, you'd be surprised how many important decisions need to be made that the courts may not otherwise make. That's why I try to remind all of my clients that it's never too early or too late to set up an estate plan to ensure that you and your family protect what's important.

For over a decade I've been working with clients throughout Huntsville and Chattanooga to help them understand the various laws and statutes that surround estate planning so that together, we can outline a plan that ensures that their estate will be distributed according to their exact wishes. As part of the process, I take an exhaustive look at the estate, value the assets and property, and help them make important decisions about how they would like everything to be taken care of. Completing the process will not only provide you with some peace of mind, but it will also lift the burden of decision-making from your loved ones after you've passed. Grieving the loss of a loved one can be difficult enough as it is without having to make decisions about what to do with an estate. Having an adequate estate plan can make the entire process much easier and ensure that your wishes are carried out — right down to the last detail.

Do you need help planning for the future?

I can make sure you’re prepared.

Drafting a Will In Alabama

Creating a will, also known as a "last will and testament," is a step that anyone can take to protect both your estate and your family in the event of your passing. A will can outline a number of different things, including:

  • Naming an executor who will ensure that the terms of your will are carried out.
  • Naming a personal guardian to care for any children left behind.
  • How to distribute any property you own to people or organizations.
  • Naming a trusted person to manage any property or assets that are left to a minor
  • Other specific determinations for things like bank accounts, investment accounts, and shared property.

What are the specific requirements to create a will in Alabama?

To finalize a will in Alabama, you simply need to draft the terms of your will, sign the will in front of two witnesses, and have the two witnesses sign the will. The state does not require that the will be notarized, however, you can make a "self-proving" will, which will speed up the process by allowing the courts to skip the contacting of witnesses to verify the will before executing it. To make a self-proving will, you and your witnesses must go to a notary and sign an affidavit that proves who you are and that all parties are willfully signing the will.

Drafting a Will In Tennessee

In Tennessee, there are a few more legal options when it comes to drafting a will. In addition to a traditional will, the state also recognizes a "living will" — which is a legally binding document that dictates the end-of-life preferences for an individual. In Tennessee, the following requirements must be met to validate a will:

  • You must be 18 years of age and of sound mind to outline a will.
  • Two or more attesting witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator (the individual outlining the will).
  • The will does not have to be notarized, but a self-proving will must be notarized.

Can an oral will be accepted in Tennessee?

Oral wills, also known as nuncupative wills, can be made by a person who is in imminent peril of death. Nuncupative wills will only be made valid if the testator dies as a result of peril, and the oral will must be made in front of two disinterested witnesses. Once the oral will is stated, the will must be reduced to writing by or under the direction of one of the witnesses within 30 days. This nuncupative will must then be submitted to probate within 6 months after the death of the testator, and will only be valid for property that does not exceed $1,000, unless the person is in active military service, in which case the value cannot exceed $10,000.

Estate Planning Attorney Serving Huntsville, AL & Chattanooga, TN

I try to remind all of my clients that it’s never too early, or too late, to begin planning for the future. That’s why for over a decade I’ve been helping clients in Alabama and Tennessee set up estate plans that can protect what’s important and ensure that their families are taken care of. If you need help setting up an estate plan, call the Law Offices of David Coates, PC today.