How Probate Laws Work in Arkansas

If you have recently suffered a death in the family, you have a lot of decisions to deal with. One of them involves dispersing the estate and the assets that the deceased person owned. You may wonder how it will handled and who will take care of dividing up the property and paying the debts. An estate must go through probate, which is a legal process that allows the courts to monitor the dispersal of the decedent’s assets.

The probate process is very similar for every state, but there are some unique features for property in Arkansas. You need to know the deadlines and other details to ensure you follow the requirements and complete the process correctly.

Is Probate Required in Arkansas?

Probate is required in Arkansas if the person who died was the sole owner of the property. There are two types of probate with one being for smaller estates and less formal. A small estate is defined as one where the assets are less than $100,000. With this type of estate, the personal representative can file an affidavit with the court and receive a form to present to the financial institutions and others to transfer ownership of the property.

How Do You Avoid Probate in Arkansas?

The best way to avoid having an estate go to probate after the owner dies is by putting all the assets into a living trust. When the person dies, they won’t show any assets in their name. All assets belong to the trust. Another option is by having assets that automatically transfer to another person or the beneficiary. For example, this would include life insurance policies, retirement plans and bank accounts with a pay-on-death beneficiary.

How Much Does an Executor Get Paid in Arkansas?

An executor can charge a reasonable fee for managing an estate in Arkansas. While there aren’t any specific amounts or percentages for the fees, they do have limits. According to law, they cannot be more than 10 percent on the first $1,000 value of the estate and five percent on the next $4,000 and three percent of the remaining amount.

Can an Executor of an Estate in Arkansas Be Compensated?

The state code on estates allows for the executor of an estate to be paid for their time and effort in handling the estate. Arkansas is one of the states that leaves the exact amount of compensation to be given to the courts. The guidelines state that it should be reasonable compensation. Generally, the courts consider the size of the estate, how complicated it was to manage, the relationship of the executor with the person who died, and what is the normal fee. The reputation and experience of the executor is also considered when determining the amount.

How Long Does Probate Take in Arkansas?

The length of time it takes to get through probate varies in Arkansas based on several factors, including the size and complexity of the estate and if there are any contests or disputes against the estate. If assets must be sold or are difficult to find, it can increase the timeline of the process. Probate will take at least six months because that is how long creditors are allowed by the Arkansas Code to make a claim against the estate for debts unpaid by the decedent.

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Arkansas?

While many estates in Arkansas are required to go through the probate process, there are exceptions. You can hire an estate attorney who can create a living trust for the assets. The beneficiaries to the trust would receive those assets without going through the courts and filing probate. If assets are jointly owned as in a marriage, the spouse who is still living would become the owner of the property after the death of their loved one.

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Arkansas?

Yes, a will must be probated according to Arkansas code or it cannot be used to transfer ownership of the decedent’s property to their heirs. Generally, the will is filed with the court in the county where the person lived at the same time as a petition for filing the estate is filed.

Settling an Estate in Arkansas

Many of the steps for probate in Arkansas are the same as in other states. They must be followed to ensure the estate is distributed as required by law.

If the estate doesn’t have enough liquid assets to pay the fees for filing probate and other costs, the executor may have to sell off some assets. They must get approval from the court before they will be allowed to do this.

How Long Do You Have to File Probate After Death in Arkansas?

According to the Arkansas Code, a will must be submitted to the courts within five years of the person’s death. The will cannot be used as proof for transfer of title until it has been probated.

Probate Court in Arkansas

The circuit courts in Arkansas handle probate. Forms can be found on the Arkansas courts website, such as the petition for probate of will and guardian’s bond. You would generally file a petition for probate in the county where the decedent lived or where their property was located if they were from out of state. You can visit the Arkansas Judiciary website to find the judge for any particular district circuit court:

Probate Code in Arkansas

Arkansas doesn’t follow the Uniform Probate Code. However, the state does have its own code to govern the probate procedures. Chapter 28 of the Arkansas Code deals with the rules and restrictions regarding probate in the state.