One of the most common questions regarding estate planning is “where does my property go when I die?” The answer always depends on whether you have a will and which relatives are living at the time. Like all other states, Arkansas has what are called “intestate succession” laws, which govern where your property ends up if you die without a will.
If you have a will, the terms of your will determine who gets what.
A “last will and testament” can be used to leave property to people, businesses or organizations such as charities. You can also name a personal guardian for your minor children, if you have any. Your will can also name a trustee to manage any property you leave behind for your children. Finally, most people name an executor who will be responsible for ensuring that the terms of the will are carried out. Whether you are single or married, the terms of your will as you have them drawn up, determine what happens to your property when you die. If you die intestate in Arkansas, which means without a will, then the laws of your state will determine where your property goes.
The Laws of Intestate Succession in Arkansas.
Generally speaking, if you are a resident of Arkansas and you die without a will, your property or assets will go to your closest living relatives. Only assets owned by you alone, in your own name, will be passed on through intestate succession. That means, for example, if you have a car that is in your name and your sister’s name, then it will not pass on to anyone else if your sister is still alive. There are other types of assets that are not affected by the laws of intestate succession, including, for example, property you’ve transferred to a living trust, life insurance proceeds and funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account. Instead, these assets will usually pass to the surviving co-owner or beneficiary, regardless of whether you have a will.
If you are single when you die, the succession of your assets depends on whether or not you have living children, parents or other close relatives at the time of your death. If you have children or descendants of deceased children, they will inherit all of your intestate property. If you have parents but no children or spouse, then your parents inherit everything. Likewise, if you have siblings but no children, spouse, or parents, then your siblings inherit everything.
When Would the State Get My Property?
The only time the county would get your asserts is if you die without a will and have no surviving family. This rarely happens, however, because the laws are designed to give your property to your relatives. So, for example, your grandparents, aunts or uncles, nieces or nephews, or cousins would be given your assets before the State would get them.
Is there a catch?
While the laws of intestate succession in Arkansas are pretty straightforward, there are a few rules you should understand. In order to inherit, a person must outlive you by five (5) days. So, if you and your sister both die in the same accident, she will not inherit your property, even if she dies a few hours after you. “Half” relatives inherit as if they were “whole” relatives. A lineal descendant who was born after you died, but was conceived before your death can inherit your assets. Finally, relatives can inherit even if they are not citizens of the United States.