WILLS & ESTATES

WHAT IS A WILL?


A will is a document which provides the manner in which a person’s property will be distributed when he dies. A person who dies after writing a Will is said to have died testate.


WHO MAY MAKE A WILL?


In Alabama, the maker of a Will must be: (1) at least 18 years old; (2) of sound mind; and (3) free from improper influences by other people.


HOW DO I MAKE A WILL?


A Will must meet certain requirements set by the State to be considered valid. The Will must be written, signed by the maker, and witnessed by two people in the manner required by the law.


WHAT HAPPENS TO MY PROPERTY IF I DO NOT WRITE A WILL?


If someone dies without writing a Will, they have died intestate. Each state has specific laws governing the distribution of property when a person dies intestate, and most laws are generally the same.


STEPS IN PROBATE OF AN ESTATE:
 

  1. File petition

  2. Take immediate control of the estate

  3. *Inventory of the estate within 2 months

  4. *Bond

  5. Notice must be given to all heirs

  6. Letters of Testamentary (administration) granted

  7. Notice to file claims must be published and individual notice given to anyone known to have a claim against the deceased

  8. Claims must be filed generally within 6 months

  9. Generally the estate cannot be divided until all claims and expenses have been paid which is at least six months

  10. Court must approve administrator's fees



A MEMBER OF MY FAMILY PASSED AWAY WITH A SAFE DEPOSIT BOX AT A BANK SOLEY IN HIS/HER NAME. THE BANK WILL NOT ALLOW THE FAMILY TO REMOVE THE ITEMS AND CLOSE THE BOX OR EVEN ACCESS THE BOX TO SEE WHAT IS IN IT. WHAT CAN WE DO?

 

Unfortunately, the only way to force the bank to allow you access to the box is to hire an attorney who will seek a court order for you.  Sometimes you can convince the bank to just open the box and let you see what is in it (without removing anything) so you can decide if it is worth the cost of hiring a lawyer.  This is more an issue of bank policy rather than probate law, so the first step in solving this problem is to work with your bank and try and convince them to assist you.  

After a certain number of years of inactivity, the bank will likely send the contents of the box to the State Treasurer’s Office’s Unclaimed Property Division.  Heirs of the original box renter can claim the contents through the claims process established by the State Treasurer. 

This scenario highlights two estate planning points.  First, it is generally not a good idea to put your Last Will and Testament, Living Will, or Power of Attorney in a safe deposit box.  Second, you should designate a person you trust to be able to access the box along with you. 

Absentee Application Ballot

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Secretary of State John H. Merrill reminds Alabamians of the option to vote by absentee ballot. He states, "Amid corona-virus concerns, it is important to remember Alabamians who are concerned about contracting or spreading an illness have the opportunity to avoid the polls on Election Day by casting an absentee ballot."

For July 14th Primary Runoff Elections, the deadline to register to vote is Monday, June 29th, the deadline to submit and absentee ballot application is Thursday, July 9th, the deadline to return an absentee ballot to the Absentee Election Manager is the close of business Monday, July 13th, and the last day to postmark an absentee ballot is Monday, July 13th.

Click the link below for the Application for an absentee ballot.

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2018 Primary Runoff Ballots

STAR ID (Click picture for more information)

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As you know, Oct. 1, 2020, is the federal deadline for REAL ID-compliant identification to board commercial domestic flights and to enter certain federal facilities. We are working to ensure those who may need STAR IDs (our state’s version of REAL ID) have ample time to obtain one prior to October of next year.

Lori Jhons of Governor Kay Ivey’s staff shared a link to the Blount County Probate website featuring the Governor’s STAR ID message. (See below.)  In addition, we have attached the latest version of the STAR ID flier with details concerning first issuance. The Covington County Probate Office will still continue to offer drivers license renewals and duplicates. For the STAR ID, You must visit the driver's license examiners office located on the right outside of the Court house.

 

Here are those links:

 

Governor’s STAR ID message, featuring ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MCNbuiBMDQ

 

Blount County Probate’s page: http://www.blountcountyalprobate.com/Default.asp?ID=61&pg=Driver+License  

September Cancer Awareness Month (Click picture for more information)

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If you have been in the Probate office recently, you may have noticed our tag display board has been changed. On display for this month, we have the Mike Slive Prostate Foundation tag, the Curing Childhood Cancer tag, and the Drive out Ovarian Cancer tag. Remember, these tags fall under the specialty tag rate. The first time a customer purchases these plates, they will be charged $55.00 extra, each year after this a customer will pay $50.00 extra. Many people are curious as to where this money goes when it is collected. The first year, $5.00 of the collected amount will go to the Alabama Department of Revenue. The rest of the collected amount goes to the Foundations that each tag sponsors:

Prostate Cancer tag funds cutting edge prostate cancer research in Alabama.

Curing Childhood Cancer tag are distributed to the UAB department of Pediatric/Children's Alabama to be used for medical research expenses.

Drive out Ovarian Cancer are distributed to the Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation for research at UAB hospital

Alabama Wildlife Art Hard Licenses Now on Sale (Click picture for more information)

For years Alabama has been accustom to paper hunting and fishing license. The Department of Conservation and Natural resources would like to introduce to you the NEW Alabama Wildlife Art Hard Licenses...

For years Alabama has been accustom to paper hunting and fishing license. The Department of Conservation and Natural resources would like to introduce to you the NEW Alabama Wildlife Art Hard Licenses. For only 5 additional dollars, you may chose from eight different cards. These cards display a variety of outdoor scenes. The art scenes include, deer, turkey, freshwater fishing, wildlife heritage with an indigo bunting, sandhill crane and shooting sports. A deer and feral hog adorn the inaugural bait privilege license.

A total of 32 license privileges are eligible for purchase as a hard card, including annual hunting and fishing licenses for residents and non-residents, state duck stamp, Wildlife Heritage and bait privilege licenses. Trip licenses, lifetime licenses and no-cost privileges are not included in this feature.

Visit www.outdooralabama.com/license-information for more information on available licenses.

Personalized Tags (Click picture for more information)

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There have been new plates that have come into production starting June 1st.  Take a look!  Visit the personalized tag website for a complete collection of tag availability!

https://pros.mvtrip.alabama.gov/

2017 Handicap Self-Certify (Click picture for more information)

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HANDICAP TAG AND PLACARD RENEWAL NEWS:

The five-year term for all handicap placards and plates ends in 2017. This means that this year you will have to re-certify in order to continue to be eligible for handicap placards or tags. The form issued by the Alabama Department of Revenue is attached in the following link, and must be completed by the applicant themsleves before or at time of renewal.

Register to Vote (Click picture for more information)

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To Register to Vote, Check your polling place, obtain Sample Ballots and more information about voting please visit the following link!

Abandoned Vehicle Law Change (Click picture for more information)

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Legislative Act 2015-470 amends the unclaimed/abandoned motor vehicle law. Effective July 1, 2016, a person or entity, including towing companies, in possession of an “unclaimed” or “abandoned” motor vehicle must report the following information to the Department of Revenue (DOR) before a motor vehicle can be sold as an “abandoned” motor vehicle. NOTE: ACT 2015-470 only applies to the sale of an abandoned vehicle for which notice is published on or after July 1, 2016. If the notice of the sale was posted prior to July 1, 2016, the vehicle may be sold under the current abandoned motor vehicle law.

NOW Offering Permanent Conservation ID # (Click picture for more information)

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Beginning August 22, 2016, hunters and anglers will be able to obtain the New Conservation ID#.  This 6-digit permanent Conservation ID# can be used to report your deer or turkey harvest in the Game Check System. Future plans include license purchasing, accessing your deer and turkey harvest history, etc.

Stacy B Brooks Sworn-In Ceremony (Click picture for more information)

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Stacy B Brooks is sworn in by Circuit Judge Benjamin M. Bowden

Marriage Certificates (Click picture for more information)

​Are you ready to get married? We now offer Marriage Certificates. According to Covington County Probate Judge Stacy Brooks..

Are you ready to get married? We now offer Marriage Certificates. 

Please follow the following steps to insure everything has been done correctly.

1. Fill out the Marriage certificate online. 

2. Make sure to have both spouses signatures notarized.

3. Bring the Certificate into the Probate Court to have it recorded.

4. The cost for two adults is $75.50. 

    The cost for minors is $78.50. (additional paperwork is required)

Marriage Certificates can be found at the following website:

http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/vitalrecords/marriage-certificates.html

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COVINGTON COUNTY PROBATE OFFICE
1K N Court Square
Andalusia, AL 36420

 

CALL US TODAY!
Tag & Titles Questions: 334-428-2510

Recording Questions: 334-428-2518/2519

Probate Court Questions: 334-428-2512