You might not be thinking about it now, but eventually most people take part in the probate process when a loved one passes away. The probate process is governed by the probate code in Arkansas. These specific laws establish the guidelines for determining how the probating of an estate proceeds in this state. They also determine how creditors are paid and how the assets of the deceased will be distributed among heirs and beneficiaries.
This process is usually very technical and somewhat complicated. Various documents must be completed and filed with the probate court within certain deadlines. If you are not familiar with the probate process in Arkansas, you should consider consulting an Arkansas Estate Planning attorney before beginning this process. Estate planning attorneys are familiar with the process and know the applicable laws, which will be a great benefit.
How long does the process take?
In Arkansas, the probate court handles all cases involving an estate. Probate proceedings are required if the deceased held personal property valued at more than $100,000 at the time of their death. This includes only property the person held in his or her name alone.
The probating of an estate can take nearly a year to complete. It can take even longer when there are uncommon assets requiring special consideration. Nevertheless, probate should normally take not more than a year and a half to complete. Whenever there is a will, the process is obviously simpler and less time-consuming. The Administrator and the heirs or beneficiaries have already been determined and identified in the will. So, there is less time spent waiting for the court to make those determinations.
Why does it take so long?
The probate process takes a long time because there are quite a few tasks that must be completed. The Personal Representative or Administrator, the person who handles most of the work, is required to make an accounting of all assets belonging to the deceased. Any real estate holdings must be appraised. Creditors must also be notified of the person’s death. This is done by placing a Notice to Creditors in the local newspapers so that all creditors have an opportunity to make a claim and collect money on any legitimate debts owed to them by the deceased. Similarly, a Notice of Administration is sent to all others who have an interest in the estate, including beneficiaries named in the will.
Anyone with an interest in the estate, including creditors, only has a certain amount of time to make a claim against the estate. These time limits are firmly established by Arkansas statute. Once those deadlines have passed, no other claims will be considered. When creditors have been paid, the remaining assets are divided and distributed to the beneficiaries. Although retaining an attorney to go through this process with you is not necessarily required, it is recommended. An estate planning attorney can give you important advice that can help to prevent costly mistakes, as well as relieve some of the stress of this complicated process, at a time that is already stressful.