Probate is the legal process of settling a deceased person's debts and distributing their assets to their beneficiaries according to their will or, if they had no will, according to state law. Estate administration is the overall process of managing and distributing the assets of a deceased person.
In Arkansas, probate is typically required when a person dies with assets that are not jointly held or are not otherwise transferred through a non-probate means such as a trust or beneficiary designation. If the deceased person had a valid will, the process of probate will be guided by the terms of the will. If the deceased person did not have a will, the process will be guided by the state's laws of intestate succession.
The probate process in Arkansas starts with the filing of a petition for probate in the appropriate county. After the court accepts the petition, the court will appoint an executor or administrator of the estate, which will be in charge of the process of settling the estate. The executor or administrator will be responsible for collecting and inventorying the assets of the estate, paying any outstanding debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
It is important to note that the probate process can take several months to a year or more to complete, and it can be complex and time-consuming. Additionally, probate is a public process, meaning that the court records are available to the public.
In Arkansas, there is a simplified process for small estates when the total value of the deceased person's assets does not exceed a certain amount. The threshold for small estates varies, but it is currently $100,000. If the value of the deceased person's assets falls below this threshold, the process of probate can be simplified by using a small estate administration.
Small estate administration in Arkansas allows for the distribution of assets without the need for formal probate proceedings. This process can be faster and less expensive than formal probate, as it does not require the appointment of an executor or administrator, and it does not involve the court.
To initiate a small estate administration in Arkansas, the beneficiaries or heirs of the estate must present a sworn statement to the person or entity that is holding the assets of the estate, such as a bank or real estate agent. The sworn statement should include the name of the deceased person, the date of death, a list of the assets and their values, and the names and addresses of the beneficiaries.
Once the sworn statement is presented, the person or entity holding the assets of the estate can release them to the beneficiaries or heirs. The process usually doesn't require a court order or any kind of court supervision and it can be done relatively quickly.
However, it's important to note that small estate administration may not be appropriate if there are any disputes among beneficiaries, creditors or other interested parties, or if the estate assets are subject to estate tax. In that case, regular probate proceedings may be necessary.
Our law firm can help you determine if small estate administration is appropriate for your case and assist you with the process of collecting and distributing the assets. We can also advise you on your rights and responsibilities as a beneficiary or heir, and help you understand the different options available to you.
Our law firm has a team of experienced attorneys who can help guide you through the probate process in Arkansas and advise you on your rights and responsibilities as an executor or administrator. We can assist you with the filing of the necessary court documents, communication with beneficiaries, and all other tasks related to the administration of an estate.
If you have been named as an executor or administrator of an estate, or if you have any questions about probate and estate administration in Arkansas, please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation.