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Intestate succession in Alabama

People work throughout their entire lives in Hoover accumulating assets with the hope that they will be able to better their own lives, as well as those of their children. Yet even with the desire to benefit their future generations in their minds, many do not place anywhere near the same effort in seeing to their estate planning. In fact, according to information compiled by Gallup, as of 2016 only 44 percent of American adults even had a will. This prompts the obvious question of what happens when one dies without a will? 

If one should die without a will, his or her estate is said to be "intestate." At this point, it becomes subject to the intestate succession guidelines set forth by the state. These can be found in Sections 43-8-41-42 of Alabama's Probate Code. The decedent's surviving spouse and issue (direct descendants) are identified as his or her immediate heirs. If one has a surviving spouse but no issue, then intestate succession guidelines mandate that the entirety of his or her estate will go to surviving spouse. If there are issue (or the decedent is survived by his or her parents), the surviving spouse's share of the estate is administered as follows: 

  • The first $50,000, then one-half of the remaining estate if the surviving issue are also the issue of the surviving spouse
  • One-half of the estate if one or more of the decedent's issue are not that of the surviving spouse 
  • The first $100,000, then then one-half of the remaining estate if the decedent has no issue, but is survived by his or her parents

If the decedent has no surviving spouse, his or her estate passes to his or her issue, parents, siblings and then extended kin in that order. Non-relatives and external organizations are not considered by intestate succession guidelines

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