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  • Charles F. Horton III


A Last Will and Testament is a person’s opportunity to ensure their property is inherited as they see fit. However, i­­n a 2016 survey of 1,025 Americans conducted by Gallup, 55% of adults did not have a Last Will.[1] The data further showed a significant decline amongst all age groups. Often individuals feel as though they are too young to consider drafting a Will and are discomforted by the contemplation of one’s own mortality. Some are attempting to avoid probate. It is also possible that they have an oversimplified view of how their possessions will be dispersed upon their death. However, passing without a Will can likely lead to unintended consequences.

When an individual passes without a Will, this is known as dying Intestate. Following their death, the belongings of this individual, including personal property, real property, bank accounts, cash, etc., will be distributed in accordance with Intestate Succession laws. These laws set out the procedure that determines who will receive the deceased’s property.

Alabama Intestate Succession is based on the closest living blood relative of the deceased. A certain family member will not inherit if a closer relative is living. As a result, the rigidity of intestacy laws can leave loved ones with no inheritance. For example, siblings will not inherit anything from the deceased if they have a spouse, children or parent(s) that were alive at the time of their death.

Based on the circumstances, spouses are given various protections if their husband/wife dies intestate. The spouse of an individual who dies without a Will shall receive at minimum one-half of the decedent’s estate regardless of whether the deceased had living children, parents or siblings. Additionally, the spouse will be granted a Spousal Share if the spouses had any surviving children born out of their marriage or if the deceased had surviving parents. The living spouse may use his/her share of the inherited property freely. As a result, it is possible that 50% or more deceased’s estate will eventually be owned by his/her spouse’s parents, children from another marriage, or a new spouse. Using a Last Will however, the deceased can bequeath property to their spouse, but have provisions that the deceased’s children/siblings/parents will inherit said property following the death of the spouse. For this reason, it is important that a person creates a Will to ensure that their family and friends receive the inheritance as he/she intended. The document can provide one with peace of mind regarding the future of their belongings and ensure that their loved ones are taken care of.

No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. This material is for informational purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue or factual circumstance. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of this material without seeking legal advice.

[1] Jones, Jeffrey, Majority in U.S. Do Not Have a Will (The Gallup Poll, 2016),


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