Estate administration and the process of probating a will. This process begins when a probate estate is opened in the probate court. Next, the personal representative will obtain and manage estate assets, pay the estate debts and liabilities, and ensure the correct beneficiaries receive the remainder of assets after debts are paid.

A personal representative or executor of the estate normally has the right and responsibility to collect the assets of the Alabama probate estate and assume control of the decedent’s property or inventory. An inventory is a list of the decedent’s property at the time of death. The inventory will include each asset’s fair market value (FMV) on the date of the decedent’s death. The personal representative must file the inventory with the probate court within two months of the appointment. A decedent's will may waive the inventory requirement with the probate court, however the court has the discretion to require an inventory. Notice to the decedent’s creditors and debtors six months after the appointment of the personal representative. Notice is done by publication for three successive weeks in a county newspaper where the letters were granted.

After the court grants letters of administration or letters of testamentary all claimants have six months to file their claims against the estate.

Claims against the estate are paid in order of preference categories:

  • funeral expenses;
  • fees and estate administration charges;
  • illness expenses (such as medical bills);
  • taxes on the decedent’s estate prior to death;
  • debts to employees for services rendered the year the decedent died;
  • all other debts

Finally, your probate attorney may proceed with closing the estate. Estate administration can be a complex process especially if there are more than one heirs in a large estate.


If a decedent’s dies with a will, it referred to as being a “testate estate”. Once a will is probated it must remain open for a minimum of six months.

If decedent dies without a will, it is referred to as being an “intestate estate”. An estate can still be opened and “administered” and must remain open for six months.

However, when a will is not self-proved, its heirs include minors and/or incapacitated persons, or when the location of one or more of the decedent’s next-of-kin is unknown, a hearing must be held prior to administered or probated. The law requires that a GAL be appointed to represent minor heirs or incapacitated heirs for the hearing.

Once a will is probated, a decedent’s estate, referred to as being a “testate estate,” must remain open for a minimum period of six months. If an individual dies without a will, which is referred to as being an “intestate estate”, an estate can still be opened and “administered”. The same six month minimum period for the estate to remain open applies.

Health Care Directives

In the case of an emergency or in the event you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself health care directives allow you to clearly explain the medical care you would like to receive or avoid. Health care directives give you the power and control to make sure your wishes are carried out. For example, if you become incapacitated due to a tragic car accident someone other than you would need to carry out your healthcare wishes. We would urge you to not leave loved ones or doctors without any direction over matters that pertain to your health. A health care directive or living will give you and your loved one’s peace of mind in a stressful situation.

First, you must specifically create a health care directive document that names the trusted individual who will speak on your behalf for your medical care. Second, you will want to create a living will, which will include your specific medical wishes and preferences. These may include issues such as the following:

  • Ventilator support
  • Surgical decisions
  • CPR
  • Blood transfusions
  • Life support

It is important to take legal steps to protect your wishes, even in the event of incapacity. If you do not want unnecessary treatment or procedures performed on you, it would be helpful to include that information in a health care directive. You want to make sure you select a person in your health care directive whom you trust to faithfully carry out your wishes. That person and your doctor will be legally obligated to do so and may face consequences if they do not.

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Edwards & Edwards

Attorneys and Mediators, Professional LLC
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3603 Pine Lane, Suite C
Bessemer, AL 35022

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(205) 549-1379


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"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." - Isaiah 1:17
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor." - Ecclesiastes 4:9

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