Provisions for Alabama Will Contests

The statute which governs Alabama Will contests is contained in title 43 of the Code of Alabama, division 3 Contesting Validity of Will. Here are select provisions:
43-8-190 – Who may contest will; filing objections; making up issue; trial by jury. A will, before the probate thereof, may be contested by any person interested therein, or by any person, who, if the testator had died intestate, would have been an heir or distributee of his estate, by filing in the court where it is offered for probate allegations in writing that the will was not duly executed, or of the unsoundness of mind of the testator, or of any other valid objections thereto; and thereupon an issue must be made up, under the direction of the court, between the person making the application, as plaintiff, and the person contesting the validity of the will, as defendant; and such issue must, on application of either party, be tried by a jury. 43-8-191 – Time for trial; continuance; summoning witnesses. Upon the institution of such contest, a day must be appointed for the trial thereof, and the trial may, on good cause shown by either party, be continued to any other day; and the judge of probate must, on application of either party, issue subpoenas for witnesses to appear on the day fixed for such trial, and may resummon them to any day to which the same may be continued. 43-8-192 – Drawing and summoning of jurors; penalty for default. (a) The jury for the trial of such contest must be drawn and summoned as provided by law. (b) Any person summoned as a juror who shall, without legal cause or good excuse, fail to attend at the time and place required, shall be guilty of a contempt of court and may be punished by the court by a fine of not exceeding $100.00. 43-8-193 – Proceedings against defaulting witness. If any witness, being duly summoned, fails to attend, the judge of probate shall enter up a conditional fine against him, not exceeding $50.00, and shall thereupon issue a notice to such witness to appear at a term of said court, not more than 30 days from the date of such notice and show cause why such fine should not be made absolute. The proceedings thereafter shall be governed by the same rules, and such witness shall be subject to the same liabilities, except as to the amount of the fine, as are provided by law in cases of defaulting witnesses in the circuit court. 43-8-194 – Depositions of witnesses; rules governing procedure. For the trial of such contest, depositions of witnesses may be taken in like cases, for the same causes and in the same manner, as depositions are taken in civil actions in the circuit court. In all matters relating to the organization and impaneling of the jury, to the evidence, mode of proceeding and investigation and determination of such contest, not specially provided for by this article, the court shall proceed and be governed by the same rules and regulations, so far as applicable, as prevail in courts of law in civil cases. 43-8-195 – Admission or rejection of will. When the judgment of the probate court is against the validity of the will, the probate thereof must be rejected; otherwise, the will must be admitted to probate. 43-8-199 – Contest in circuit court after admission to probate – Generally. Any person interested in any will who has not contested the same under the provisions of this article, may, at any time within the six months after the admission of such will to probate in this state, contest the validity of the same by filing a complaint in the circuit court in the county in which such will was probated. 43-8-200 – Contest in circuit court after admission to probate – Parties; conclusiveness of judgment. In the event a contest of the probate of a will is instituted in the circuit court, as is or may be authorized by law, all parties interested in the probate of the will, as devisees, legatees or otherwise, as well as those interested in the testator if he had died intestate, as heirs, distributees or next of kin, shall be made parties to the contest; and if there be minors or persons of unsound mind interested in the estate or in the probate of the will, they shall be represented by their legal guardian, if such they have; if they have no such guardian, the court shall appoint an attorney-at-law as guardian ad litem to represent their interest in the contest, and the final judgment in such contest proceedings shall be conclusive as to all matters which were litigated or could have been litigated in such contest; and no further proceedings shall ever be entertained in any courts of this state to probate or contest the probate of such will. 43-8-201 – Contest in circuit court after admission to probate – Additional time for contest by infants and persons of unsound mind. After the expiration of such six months, the validity of the will can only be contested by infants and persons of unsound mind who had no legal guardian at the time the will was admitted to probate, or who were not represented by a guardian ad litem, who are allowed 12 months after the appointment of a guardian, or, if none be appointed, 12 months from the termination of their respective disabilities in which to contest such will, but in no case to exceed 20 years from the time the will was admitted to probate; and also provided there has not been one contest instituted and prosecuted to final judgment in the circuit court as is provided for in sections 43-8-199 and 43-8-200; in which case the final judgment of the circuit court, court of civil appeals or supreme court shall be final and conclusive against all parties.

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