Probate Issues in the State of Alabama

What is Involved in Handling Probate Issues?

In the United States, each state has a probate court system to a administer the distribution of the deceased assets under the terms of his or her will or under applicable state law if the decedent died without leaving a will. Probate laws in Alabama are similar to those of most other states, but they also include some unique features.

Unique Features of Alabama Probate Law

Exempt Property

A small amount of a decedent’s personal property is exempt from from the claims of creditors under Alabama probate law. According to section 43-8-111, property of a value that does not exceed $3,500 in such things as furniture, automobiles, personal effects and appliances is exempt from claims on the estate. The surviving spouse has the first claim on the $3,500 worth of property. The $3,500 exemption is divided among the decedent’s children if there is no surviving spouse.


Under Alabama probate law any person, who, if the decedent had died without a will, would have been an heir or recipient of estate property, can contest the will. A claim must be filed by this individual with the probate court that the deceased was of unsound mind when making the will, or that the will was not executed properly. They can also present evidence of any other valid objection.

Time Limit

According to Alabama probate law a will must be filed within five years of death of the owner of the will, or it is invalid. If the testator was living outside the state of Alabama at the time of her death, the will is still eligible for admission to an Alabama probate court, provide it was filed within five years of the testator’s death in the state, territory or country where the testator was residing at the time of death.

Surviving Spouse

Alabama state law declares that if a person dies without a will, and is not survived by children or parents, the surviving spouse would then receive the entire estate. If the deceased is survived by a parent or parents, then the surviving spouse receives the first $100,000 of the value of the estate, plus half of the rest of the estate. If there are children of the surviving spouse, the first $50,000 of the estate and half of the rest go to the surviving spouse. If the deceased had other children, the spouse gets half of the estate.