Arkansas Wills, Trust, and Probate
Construct an estate plan to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death and your loved ones are protected. Your estate plan may be comprised of several documents, including, but not limited to—will, trust, durable power of attorney, advanced care directive, and healthcare surrogate designation.
It is important that you amend your estate plan whenever significant happenings occur in your life. These may include—marriage, birth, divorce, retirement, death, or incapacity. Talk to an Arkansas estate-planning attorney about crafting your estate plan and about any amendments you make to the plan.
An Arkansas court may not consider valid a will that has been drafted improperly. If the court decides that your will is not valid, your property may not be dispensed of as you would like. For a valid will, you need:
Contact an Arkansas lawyer who specializes in drafting wills, and who can help you meet the legal requirements and will formalities necessary for a valid Arkansas will.
Changing a Will in Arkansas
To change your will in Arkansas, you should either amend your will using a codicil (generally a separate sheet of paper attached to the will on which you write amendments to your will), or write an entirely new will, and revoke your old will by completely destroying it (i.e.-by burning, tearing, obliterating, etc.).
Notify your Arkansas will lawyer whenever you make alterations to your will.
An alternative way to dispose of property after your death is to establish a trust. Trusts are a private, flexible method of allocating your assets that may save you money on taxes and allow you to avoid probate. A trust can be established for any number of purposes, including life insurance, education, charity, and special needs; and, in several different forms, including revocable, irrevocable, and inter vivos (living). Establishing a trust can be a complicated process. So, it is recommended that you seek aid from an Arkansas estate-planning lawyer if you want to set up a trust.
In Arkansas, property left in a will may go through the probate process, unless, the property is not left to a certain person or the decedent does not leave a will. Assets not accounted for in the will, or the lack of a will means that that property will pass by intestate succession. Intestate succession means that Arkansas law will decide who gets what property according to each person’s proximity of blood relationship to the deceased.
If assets are ambiguously allocated in a will, or if assets are distributed according to intestate succession, interested parties may petition the probate court to decide who should receive what property and in what shares.
Arkansas does have a way to avoid the formal probate process if your estate is worth less than $100,000. After 45 days have passed since the decedent’s death, a beneficiary of his estate may file a Small Estate Affidavit with the probate court stating that all claims against the estate have been paid and requesting disbursement of assets from the estate.
The following non-exclusive list of blood relationships is significant for determining the allocation of property by intestate succession:
Interested persons can question the validity of a will long after the will has been finished; thus, it is imperative that you bring any concerns you have to the attention of an Arkansas probate attorney.
Arkansas Code, Title 28 – Wills, Estates, and Fiduciary Relationships