All states have what are known as “intestate succession” laws. Arkansas is no exception. Dying intestate simply means dying without a will. How your property is transferred in that situation, depends primarily on which relatives survive you, or are still living at the time you pass away.
Fayetteville Arkansas Intestate Succession Laws
The simplest answer to the question, “who will get my property when I die without a will,” is that your property will go to your closest living relative(s). The order of priority in which the heritable estate passes to family members, according to Arkansas statute, is as follows:
1. Surviving children, and the descendants of any predeceased child.
2. Surviving spouse, if there are no children takes the entire estate. There is an exception if married for less than 3 years at time of death. In that situation, the spouse only gets 50% of the estate.
3. Surviving parents share equally if both survived.
4. Brothers and sisters, and descendants of predeceased brothers and sisters.
5. Grandparents, uncles and aunts and descendants of predeceased uncles and aunts.
6. Great grandparents, great uncles and great aunts and descendants of predeceased great uncles and great aunts.
7. Surviving spouse of marriage less than three years, OR if the spouse of the decedent has already died, persons who would have been the heirs of the deceased spouse.
If there are no individuals fitting into any of the seven categories listed above, then the estate “escheats” to the county where you resided at the time of your death. So, the only time the county would get your property is if you die without a will and have no surviving family. This rarely happens because the laws are designed to give your property to your relatives, even the most remote ones, if necessary.
A few caveats.
Only property in your own name, that you owned alone, will pass through intestate succession. This means that if you have a vehicle in both your name and your daughter’s name, it will not pass to anyone else as long as your daughter survives you. There are some other kinds of assets that are not governed by the laws of intestate succession. For example, life insurance proceeds, funds in a 401(k), IRA or retirement account, pass to the intended beneficiary.
While Arkansas’s Intestate Succession laws are straightforward for the most part, there are some rules that apply to particular situations. First, in order to inherit, a person must outlive you by at least five (5) days. So, for example, if you and your husband both die in the same plane crash, your estate will not pass to him, even if he dies several hours after you do. Second, no distinction is made between so-called “half” relatives and whole relatives. Half relatives inherit just the same. Third, a relative who was born after you died, but was actually conceived before your death, would still be in line to inherit. Finally, relatives who are not United States citizens can still inherit.