At some point during your life, you may find yourself in charge of overseeing the probate of an estate, or, hopefully, thinking about your own estate planning. If you find yourself in one of those two positions, a basic understanding of the probate process in Arkansas will be crucial. A good starting point is understanding when an estate will be subject to the probate process. Wilcox Attorneys, PA is here to help!
What Is the Purpose and Process of Probate?
In general, the purpose of probate is to ensure a decedent’s assets are distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries after all debts of the decedent are paid. Just about everyone leaves behind an “estate”. An estate can consist of a single checking account or millions of dollars. Ownership of accounts, real estate, assets with registered title, business interests, retirement accounts, investment accounts, etc. should all be considered when probating an estate or doing your own estate planning.
In Arkansas, if you pass away with assets titled in your personal name, with no co-owner and no beneficiary designation, those assets must be probated. If a person passes away testate (has a Last Will and Testament), the Will is submitted to the Court and used as the guide for the appointment of a Personal Representative (i.e., Executor) and the distribution of assets. If a person passes away intestate (no Will exists), then an Administrator (i.e., Executor) is appointed at the discretion of the Judge and assets are distributed according to the Arkansas laws of intestacy. Note: A Last Will and Testament alone will not keep your estate out of probate.
Once a Personal Representative or Administrator has been appointed, a notice must be published in the newspaper for 2 consecutive weeks as a means of notifying creditors of the probate proceedings. Creditors then have six (6) months to file claims against the estate. The six-month time period is a game of “hurry up and wait”. Nothing can be done with any of the assets without permission from the Judge.
At the end of the six-month time period, a Petition is filed, asking the Judge for permission to distribute the estate assets according to the terms of the Will or the laws of intestacy.
This information is specific to Arkansas and is a brief, general explanation of the probate process. Every situation is unique, and the process may not always look the same. Always contact an attorney before taking any action regarding the administration of an estate.
How Can I Avoid Probate?
PLAN NOW. One of the best gifts you can give your loved ones is a well-executed estate plan. No one wants to think about their death, much less plan for it. However, the peace of mind you will have personally, and the peace of mind you will give your loved ones, is priceless. Have the hard conversations and make the hard decisions now so your family won’t be left to figure it out by themselves later.
You don’t have to have a large estate to do estate planning. There is so much more to estate planning than having a Last Will and Testament from 20 years ago. Come see us, and let us walk you through it! We’d love to get to know you and help design the best plan we can for you and your family!
Will Your Estate Be Probated? Contact Us For Help.
For additional information, please schedule a free estate planning consultation or sign up for one of our FREE estate planning webinars. If you have additional questions or concerns about probate, feel free to contact us! Wilcox Attorneys, PA can be reached by calling or texting 479-443-0062 or by email at email@example.com.