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Arkansas Wills & Probate FAQ

Q:

What are the duties of the executor or personal representative?

A:

The personal representative of someone’s estate is appointed to carry out the instructions set forth in the decedent’s will and settle any debts that they owed. Often, this person is named as the executor within the will itself. In situations where someone died without a will, the personal representative oversees the dispersal of the decedent’s assets in accordance with Arkansas intestacy laws. Specific tasks include notifying heirs, bringing property into the estate, keeping track of assets and expenses and reporting to the court that the estate is ready to be settled.

Q:

Why must an estate go through probate?

A:

When someone dies, ownership of their property must be transferred to others. Additionally, creditors have a right to collect the debts owed to them by the decedent. The probate process is the legal mechanism by which assets are distributed and debts are settled. While the estate is active, the personal representative for the estate manages this process and addresses expenses that arise while probate is pending, such as property taxes on real estate owned by the decedent. At the point when all of the decedent’s assets have been brought into the estate and all their obligations have been paid, the court issues an order approving transfer of the remaining property to the designated heirs.

Q:

What happens to my property and my children if I die without a will?

A:

Dying without a will means that your property that could have been transferred by a will passes to family members in accordance with the state’s intestacy laws. How much your children receive depends on whether you were married at the time of your death. You should remember that certain assets, such as property jointly owned by you and your spouse, life insurance proceeds and accounts with a contingent beneficiary are not transferable through a will.

Q:

How do I revise my will?

A:

Financial circumstances and relationships can change quickly. Even if you’ve only recently created a will, you might want to make revisions to it. If you haven’t reviewed your estate planning documents in a while, it’s good to check them over to see if they still reflect your wishes. Revising a will is a fairly simple process, but you need to prevent any possibility that different people will claim that a different document is the valid will. We can help you develop a new will that explicitly supersedes the old one. Should you wish to add a provision to an existing will without changing language within the document, our firm can assist in the preparation of a codicil.

Q:

What is the difference between a will and a revocable trust?

A:

A will serves one legal function, which is to direct how the testator’s assets should be distributed upon their death. While a revocable trust can do that as well, it is a legal instrument that can go into effect immediately and accomplish other objectives. People who want to spare their beneficiaries from having to wait through the probate process sometimes establish a revocable living trust. A grantor shifts their assets to the living trust and can use them for the rest of their life. Once the grantor dies, what is left in the trust passes to the designated beneficiaries.