Alabama: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

A complete guide to the most important medical, legal, and estate planning documents and state laws for Alabama. Use Pillar to download and organize all of your most important documents

January 25, 2021

If you or someone you’re caring for lives in the Heart of Dixie, there are a lot of important forms, documents, resources, and specific state laws you need to know about. Here's a complete list of the medical, legal, and estate planning documents you need to get your most important documents organized and plan for whatever the future brings if you live in Alabama.

Essential Medical State Laws & Forms: Alabama

Medical Records

Alabama law requires that health care providers maintain medical records as follows:

  • Hospitals: 5 years
  • Doctors: 10 years

For as long as they are available, you have the right to get a copy of or amend your medical records. You can find out more about how to do this here.

Advance Directive Laws

Alabama law says that if you're 19 years old or older, you have the right to decide about your medical care. However, if you're sick or badly hurt, you may not be able to communicate exactly what kind of medical care you want. 

That's why Alabama allows you to set up the following provisions ahead of time:

Read more about your rights when it comes to your medical records.

Alabama Organ Donor Registry

If you’d like to become an organ donor in the state of Alabama, then you can register online. Sign up by creating an account with the Legacy Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor Registry.

Alabama Legal & Estate Planning Documents & Forms

Trusts and Probate Laws in Alabama

According to Section 19-3-1, it is lawful in Alabama to create a trust for the passing of personal property and real estate. A living trust is recommended to help avoid Alabama's complex probate process. To find out more about how to set up a living trust in Alabama, click here.

Alabama Digital Estate Planning Laws

In Alabama, your digital assets (emails, social media accounts, etc.) can be legally passed on to a family member, personal representative, or trustee. You can read more about the specifics here, but it's about 20 pages long: HB 138 Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

Alabama Probate Laws

In Alabama, unless you have set up a trust to transfer property, your estate must pass through probate. The only exception is the “small estate act” which allows heirs to receive assets after one week if the total value of the estate does not exceed $25,000.

Probate is typically a lengthy procedure where an estate has to be reviewed by judge before any assets are distributed — even if you've created a legally binding will. The probate process can take weeks or even months to resolve which means expensive lawyer fees and a larger gap before your assets are distributed to your heirs. Trusts are one of the best ways to avoid the probate process, especially if you have a larger estate in Alabama.

Read more about the biggest differences between a will and a trust, and why you might want to avoid Alabama's stricter probate requirements when planning your estate.

How to Get a Death Certificate in Alabama

Under Alabama law, death certificates are considered confidential for 25 years from the date of death. After 25 years, they are then publicly available. If you’re a family member or personal representative and need a copy of a death certificate before 25 years have passed, then you must meet the following requirements and apply for one here.

Does Alabama Have an Estate & Inheritance Tax?

There is no estate tax in Alabama. However, you will still likely have to pay federal taxes on any inheritances you receive from residents of Alabama, or if you live in Alabama. collects the following inheritance and estate taxes:

  • Estate tax: None
  • Inheritance tax: None. Note: If you live in Alabama and someone from another state has made you an heir to their estate, then the other state’s inheritance laws may apply.
  • Gift tax: None

Everything You Need to Know About Estate Planning in Alabama

Alabama has a number of unique state laws when it comes to your medical records, inheritance taxes, wills, trusts, and estate planning. Navigate the strict probate process and lax estate tax with confidence with your customized (and organized!) Pillar account. You can scan, store, and share your most important state documents when you need them with Pillar's secure and easy-to-use online storage tool for you and your family.

Start your free 14-day trial today and see if Pillar is right for you.