Arkansas probate law is very confusing to those having to deal with it for the first time. The more forethought someone has given to their estate, the easier it will be for the heirs. All estates will have to go through probate.
There are four types of probate in Arkansas, determining how easy or costly probate will be.
1. Testate administration (with a will)
This is the simplest form of probate. The will normally names an Executor of the Estate, who is usually appointed as an independent executor. This allows flexibility in carrying out their numerous duties, including:
* Listing all of the decedent’s assets;
* Paying debts and taxes;
* Prosecuting claims for any money owed to the estate;
* Properly distributing the estate’s assets when probate is completed.
2. Dependent Administration (without a Will)
The dependent administrator has the same responsibilities listed above, but each step requires approval by the Court, resulting in a lengthy and costly probate. The dependent administrator will also have to post a surety bond and file a yearly accounting with the Court.
3. Independent Administration (without a Will)
If all of the heirs agree, the Court can appoint an independent administrator. In this case, no surety bond will be required and the probate process will be much easier, with little supervision required by the Court. An independent administrator can pay final bills, etc. without needing Court approval for each expenditure.
Without a Will, the property will be eventually distributed in accordance with Arkansas law, not as someone might have wished. The Court will determine the identity of the heirs and what each heir is entitled to.
4. Muniment of Title (with a Will)
The Court recognizes the Will as a valid document, but does not appoint an executor or administrator. The will is recorded in the county’s deed records so that it will serve as a link in the chain of title for any property passing from the Decedent to the heirs. Title to the property can be transferred with a certified copy of the Will. If a Will must be probated more than four years after the death, this is the only way in which the Will can be probated.
A well versed probate lawyer in Cabot AR will greatly benefit the personal representative that must oversee the payment of claims and expenses and oversee the distribution of the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries.
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