Probate and Estate Administration

Probate in Arkansas

Probate can be a stressful and overwhelming process at one of the most difficult times in a person’s life, upon the death of a loved one. You shouldn’t have to worry about the legal intricacies and complexities of probate and the court system. You should be able to focus on yourself and your family during a difficult time and that is exactly what we are here to help you do. Let us take on the burden of facilitating and managing the legal process of probate from beginning to end. We are here to walk you through this time and to make the process as easy and efficient as possible. We will guide you through the entire process including the opening of probate, filing all legal documents, managing family communications, managing any Court proceedings, facilitating any accountings and tax filings, and helping to guide and manage any asset sales or distributions. Probate can be a difficult and complex process, and you need a client-focused, experienced probate attorney to guide you through that process as quickly and as painlessly as possible. We are located in Batesville, Arkansas, and we serve all surrounding areas including Ash Flat, Greers Ferry, Heber Springs, Melbourne, Mountain View, Mountain Home, Newport, Salem, and Searcy.

What is Probate?

In Arkansas, probate is the legal process by which the property and assets owned by a person who has deceased  known as probate assets (probate assets are defined below) are administered (referred to as an estate administration) by the Court, accounted for, inventoried, and eventually distributed to the lawful heirs of the deceased individual. In Arkansas, the probate process is a minimum of six months, however, a lot happens during that six-month period. To learn more about the process of probate, visit our Blog titled “The 10 Basic Steps of Probate.”

What are Probate Assets?

Probate assets are generally any of the following that were owned individually and not owned jointly with another person including:

  • Real property titled solely in the deceased individual’s name (vacant land, house, etc.);
  • Cars, trucks, boats, and basically anything with a title;
  • Any personal property such as jewelry, furniture, appliances, other household items;
  • Any interest in a partnership, corporation, or limited liability company;
  • Any individually owned money or bank accounts with no payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) designation;
  • Some life insurance policies, brokerage accounts, or retirement accounts with no beneficiary designation.

Assets that not probate assets and are excluded from probate can include the following:

  • Assets that an individual owned jointly with another person (joint rights of survivorship, joint tenants, tenants by the entirety);
  • Any bank or brokerage accounts held jointly or with a POD, TOD, or beneficiary designation;
  • Any property held in a trust;
  • Any life insurance with a beneficiary designation; and
  • Any retirement accounts with a beneficiary designation.

When is Probate Necessary?

Probate is necessary if the following circumstances have occurred:

  1. someone has passed away;
  2. that person owned probate assets (defined above); and
  3. that person did not have their probate assets put into a trust or other mechanism that avoids probate in Arkansas.

Many people have been led to mistakenly believe that a Will avoids probate all together which is wholly inaccurate. A Will DOES NOT avoid probate in Arkansas, it simply tells the probate Court who you want to receive your assets rather than leaving it up to the court and Arkansas law to decide. The only way to avoid probate is to either not own any probate assets or to have your assets put into a Trust.  To learn more about the differences between a Will and a Trust, visit our Blog titled “Estate Planning - Basics of Estate Planning (Wills vs. Trusts).” To learn more about the process of probate, visit our Blog titled “The 10 Basic Steps of Probate.”

Let Us Help You.

The process of probate can seem daunting and overwhelming, but we are here to walk you through the process of probate and estate administration and to get you to the end of that road as quickly and easily as possible. You should be able to focus on your life and your family. Let us help you by taking the burden and stress of probate off of your shoulders. That is what we are here for and we will work diligently for you. In order to help make the process as easy as possible for you, we offer various payment structures, payment plans, and most cases qualify for no out-of-pocket fees or expenses so that probate does not put a financial burden on you or your family. Give us a call to talk to someone in our Batesville, Arkansas, law office today at 870-376-4455.