When you write your will, you are taking an important step in planning for the future. Not only does the will allow you to designate how to distribute your property and assets after you are gone, but also it can provide comfort to your loved ones in knowing that they are carrying out your wishes. Whether you have a will or not, Arkansas has specific laws for probate and estate that must be followed.
Arkansas requires that every estate is subject to a legal proceeding called administration, whether there is a will (testate) or no will (intestate). The administration takes place in the county where the deceased lived and is conducted by the Circuit Court’s Probate Division. If the deceased lived out of state but owned property in Arkansas, the administration occurs in the county where the deceased owned property. Two key people involved in the administration include the personal representative, if specified in the will, who carries out the instructions in the will and files necessary papers and forms, and the personal representative’s attorney. If there is no will or no personal representative is named, people may petition the court for the position.
To probate a will in Arkansas, you must request probate within five years after the deceased passes away. After five years, Arkansas courts will not probate estates. If probate is requested near the end of those five years, the probate process may not be able to be completed properly. The more time that passes increases the difficulty of the probate process.
Personal Representative Responsibilities
The individual named as the personal representative in the will or appointed the personal representative by the court must be able to carry out a specific set of requirements. Though this list is not exhaustive, the personal representative has to protect the property of the estate, including insurances, except for those items that were specifically designated to a person or group in the will. He or she also has to pay appropriate income taxes and estate taxes, as well as any bills owed by the estate. Another responsibility includes dispersing assets to the heirs listed in the will.