Estate planning allows you to establish your wishes for the end of your life. You can designate heirs for your personal property, document instructions for life-saving medical care and name a trusted person to speak on your behalf if you become unable to do so. 

Explore the state laws in Alabama that govern the estate planning process. 

Creating a will 

In Alabama, anyone of sound mind who is at least 18 years old can make a legal will, which establishes beneficiaries for the person’s estate. The person must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses, who also sign the will. A person with intellectual disabilities can create a will as long as he or she has the capacity to understand what the document means. Alabama does not accept handwritten or orally dictated wills. 

The person who makes the will can revoke it at any time. He or she can physically destroy the will and/or create a new will that supersedes the old will. 

Establishing a living will 

A living will details a person’s wishes for end-of-life care. Under the Alabama Natural Death Act, individuals can dictate whether they want to receive medical interventions that create a permanently unconscious state by artificially prolonging life. 

Anyone who is at least 19 years old can create a living will in Alabama. Like a standard will, a living will is legally valid when it is in writing and signed by the creator and at least two witnesses. The person can revoke the living will by creating a written revocation, destroying the legal document or stating revocation in front of a witness who signs a legal document to that effect. 

In addition, Alabama recognizes living wills and health care directives that a person created in another state. However, the document must follow the estate planning laws of the state in question. 

These are the basic documents you need to start an estate plan. Individuals with complex estates can consider additional options such as trusts.