Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy. When you are also responsible for overseeing the probate of the estate, it can be even more stressful as you try to manage your grief while also focusing on the administration of the estate. Making matters worse, you may know very little about the probate process. To give you some idea of what to expect, the attorneys at Wilcox Attorneys, PA explain how long it typically takes to probate an estate in Arkansas.
Understanding the Probate Process
A basic understanding of what happens during probate is necessary if you are in charge of overseeing that process. Most estates are required to go through some form of probate. Common steps in the formal probate process include:
- Identifying, locating, and valuing all estate assets.
- Notifying creditors of the estate that probate is underway.
- Identifying, locating, and notifying beneficiaries and/or heirs that the estate is being probated.
- Reviewing and approving or denying creditor claims.
- Prioritizing and paying approved claims.
- Selling assets, if necessary, to pay creditors.
- Defending any challenges to the Will or litigating any claims made by creditors that were denied.
- Calculating any paying federal (and state, if applicable) gift and estate taxes.
- Effectuating the legal transfer of the remaining assets to the named beneficiaries and/or legal heirs of the estate.
How Long Does Probate Take in Arkansas?
Because every estate is unique, the probate process is never the same for any two estates; however, you can expect it to take a minimum of about eight months for even a relatively simple estate to get through formal probate in Arkansas. Creditors have six months, after being notified that probate in underway, to file claims against the estate so probate cannot be concluded until that period has expired. Then you still need to wrap up the process. In addition, a variety of factors and events can further delay the probate process. All estates are different, so it is important to speak with an experienced probate attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can the estate use a small estate alternative to formal probate? Like most states, Arkansas offers an alternative to formal probate for small estates that qualify. As of 2022, estates with an overall value of less than $100,000 may qualify to use an alternative. If the estate is eligible, it can make the probate process move considerably faster and, therefore, shorter the time it takes to get through probate.
- How can we avoid probate? A well thought out estate plan can include several helpful probate avoidance tools and strategies that can significantly reduce the time the estate spends in probate. Leaving behind as few probate assets as possible, for example, is an excellent probate avoidance strategy. Some assets, such as assets held in a trust, are considered non-probate assets, and bypass the probate process altogether.
- What if someone contests the Will? Not surprisingly, litigation typically extends the time it takes for an estate to get through probate. If someone challenges the validity of the Will, for example, it effectively stops the process in its tracks until that challenge is litigated. Until the Will is declared to be valid, probate cannot reach a conclusion. If the Will is declared invalid, the estate becomes an intestate estate administration.
Contact a Fayetteville Probate Attorney
For additional information, please sign up for one of our FREE estate planning webinars. Our next webinar is February 28, 2023 at 6:00pm! If you have additional questions or concerns about probating an estate, contact an experienced Fayetteville probate attorney at Wilcox Attorneys, PA by calling 479-443-0062 to schedule your appointment today.
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