Probate is the court proceeding that begins the legal process of settling an estate after an owner’s death. In Alabama, either a Will appoints an Executor (Personal Representative), or, in cases when the estate owner dies Intestate (without a Will), the court will appoint someone to take on the role. In either case, it’s likely that you’ll have to deal with probate, which can be messy, costly, timely and stressful if you’re not prepared and knowledgeable about the process.
The cost of probate in Alabama will differ depending on several factors, including:
Where you are in the state (different counties have different fees)
The size of the estate
How complex the estate is
If there is a valid Will or Trust in place
And other factors
Counties across the state have varying court costs and filing fees, so there’s no one true, clear answer regarding the average cost of probate in Alabama. But because many times estates will have to go through probate to be settled, it’s helpful to take the time to understand a bit more about the process.
Common Probate Fees in Alabama
While there are some variances when it comes to probate costs across the state, there are generally some pretty common fees you should expect to pay as you navigate probate. Some of these fees can include:
Executor’s fee (Alabama is a reasonable compensation state)
Professional fees: accountants; appraisers; land surveyors
Executor/Administrator/Probate Bond (required by county courts)
Common Questions About Probate in Alabama
How Long Does Probate Take in Alabama?
The probate process in Alabama can take anywhere from six months to several years. The complexity and size of the estate will largely come into play.
What Are Probate Lawyer Fees in Alabama?
A probate lawyer’s fees will range, depending on how complicated the process is, how big the estate is and a few other factors. Probate attorneys generally bill using one out of three different methods:
By the hour
A flat fee
A percentage of the estate value (not typically customary in Alabama; only common in a few states)
How Can You Avoid Probate in Alabama?
In Alabama, there are several instances where an estate will almost certainly have to be probated. But the process may be avoided if:
The value of an estate is under the small estate threshold (see below)
There is a Living Trust present
Accounts and assets are Transfer/Payable on Death (TOD; POD)
What is Considered a Small Estate in Alabama?
Most states have a “small estates” rule that allows you to avoid probate entirely, as long as the estate value doesn’t pass a certain threshold. In Alabama, if an estate doesn’t have any real property and the value doesn’t exceed $25,000, after waiting 30 days, you can use what’s known as a summary probate procedure. Note that Alabama doesn’t have an Affidavit procedure.
Who Pays Probate Fees in Alabama
Probate attorney fees in Alabama and other costs associated with the process will come out of the estate’s value before distributions are made to beneficiaries.