Frequently Asked Questions on Estate Planning in Arkansas
Most people understand that estate planning is an important responsibility, but they aren’t as sure about what’s required and when is the right time to start. Drawing on an Arkansas legacy lasting several decades, Gramling Estes Law Firm offers thorough, knowledgeable counsel on a full range of estate planning concerns. Whether your needs are simple or highly complex, you can rely on our Fayetteville attorneys to construct an overall plan that suits your specific needs. We can start by answering questions you might have, such as:
- When is the right time to consider estate planning?
- How can I avert disputes over my estate?
- What happens if I die without an estate plan?
- Does Arkansas collect estate or inheritance tax?
It is always a good time to create an estate plan or to review your existing arrangements. No matter how old you are or much property you own, you have the right to decide you will receive your assets upon your death. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can assist with the preparation of a valid will and advise you regarding other documents that you can use to transfer assets, express your preferences regarding guardianship for your children and protect yourself if you are incapacitated and cannot communicate.
The best way to minimize the likelihood of estate disputes after you are gone is to prepare clear, valid testamentary documents right now. Our lawyers have seen the financial and emotional cost that disagreements over wills and trusts can cause. Accordingly, we make sure that each legal instrument we prepare is not only enforceable under Arkansas law, but drafted to cut off potential conflicts over misinterpretation. If you anticipate that a family member or friend might contest your will, you could speak to the relevant parties about your intentions while you’re alive.
Should you die without a valid will, property that you could have directed to particular heirs is distributed according to the Arkansas laws governing intestate succession. This means that assets are divided among family members based on a priority system set by statute, not by your preference. Who gets what share depends on several factors, including whether you were married, how long you were wed at the time of your death and if you have children. Under intestacy law, it does not matter how you felt about the particular beneficiary. For example, if you have no living spouse, parents or children, your estate is divided evenly among your siblings. You might have three siblings, but be estranged from one. Regardless, the estranged brother or sister gets the one-third share, just like the siblings you were close to.
Arkansas does not collect an estate tax or an inheritance tax. State residents remain subject to the federal estate tax if their assets exceed the exemption amount. The federal exemption amount for 2021 is $11.7 million dollars. However, this amount can change from year to year. If the total value of your estate is close to the threshold, it’s wise to seek the assistance of an attorney, because an increase in value or an asset you’ve overlooked could trigger tax liability unless you’ve taken steps to avoid that likelihood.