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Our Attorneys Can Guide You Efficiently Through The Probate Process

When someone passes away, they are known as a decedent in the legal community. A decedent usually leaves behind an estate. Contrary to popular belief, an estate does not always constitute a large mansion, vehicles, fancy furniture, and a lot of money. The truth is that an estate consists of any person’s property, assets, and possessions, regardless of how modest they are. Moreover, it is important to recognize that when a person dies, that does not mean that their affairs are automatically settled. A person’s estate affairs can be quite complex. That is a major reason why it is essential to have a proper and secure estate plan.

If you have been named as the executor or administrator of a loved one’s estate or will otherwise be managing the final affairs of someone who has passed, our attorneys at Jurist Law Group, PLLC, can provide the skilled and supportive guidance you need during this difficult time. We have the knowledge and experience to assist you whether or not the decedent had a will and estate plan in place.

Why And When Probate Is Necessary

A person’s estate (known as a decedent estate in Arkansas) generally includes real estate property, cash, vehicles, jewelry, furniture, and any other asset that carries value. Probate is the court process that manages and distributes an individual’s property and assets after they pass away. In other words, it is the legal process of administering a person’s estate after they have died to transfer ownership of a person’s assets after death.

In Arkansas, probate administration is required when one or more of the following is true:

  • The value of the estate exceeds $100,000
  • The estate is being contested
  • Creditors are seeking to collect an estate debt

In some instances, there are ways to avoid the probate process. For instance, certain assets do not have to go through probate, and it may be possible to avoid probate altogether. Many of the measures used to avoid probate are utilized during the estate planning process, but our attorneys can assess your loved one’s estate to determine if it is possible to circumvent probate.

Small Estates

In situations where a decedent’s estate is valued at less than $100,000, you can dispense with probate administration in favor of a Small Estate procedure that does not require the oversight of the probate court.  This procedure is known as a Small Estate Affidavit by Distributee.  The heirs of the decedent file an affidavit with the probate clerk which allows banks and other entities to transfer the decedent’s asset directly to the heirs without court intervention.  However, the person who files the affidavit accepts personal liability for any errors or creditors of the decedent’s estate.  So it is recommended that an heir seek professional assistance before attempting this procedure on their own.  It is a good idea to consult an experienced attorney like those at our firm. We will work closely with you to ensure that all details are handled promptly and that no legal requirements are overlooked.

Probate Is Easiest When The Decedent Had A Will

Since probate consists of settling a deceased person’s estate, the way a person planned for their estate will significantly direct how the probate process will transpire. If the deceased left a will, the probate court will move to prove the will’s validity. If the will is found to be valid, the instructions and wishes specified in the document will be executed by the executor of the will under the court’s supervision. The executor is the person who is named in the will to oversee the assets and obligations of the will and estate. After all applicable obligations, taxes, and debts have been squared away, probate enables the remaining property and assets to be passed to the heirs and beneficiaries.

Having a valid will assures that the property and assets of the decedent’s estate go to the people and entities that he or she wishes and designates when the time comes to probate the estate. With a will in place, probate is a much smoother and quicker process.

Probate Is More Complex Without A Will

If an individual dies intestate (without a will), the court will assume control over their estate. It is also worth noting that if a will is present but is found to be invalid, the estate in question is an intestate estate. The Intestacy laws in Arkansas will determine how the assets in the estate are distributed, which becomes the responsibility of the probate court. One of the first steps of getting an estate probated without a will is having an administrator appointed to manage the estate. The administrator will be appointed by the court, and they are usually the spouse or adult child of the decedent.

In general, the estate administrator acts like an executor of a will. They have the task of taking care of paying off the estate’s outstanding debts and resolving any legal claims. They also have to locate the heirs of the deceased and distribute the assets according to the law and court’s authorization. Whether your loved one died had a will or died intestate, it is a good idea to consult an experienced attorney like those at our firm. We will work closely with you to ensure that all details are handled promptly and that no legal requirements are overlooked.

Contact Us To Discuss Your Legal Needs

Jurist Law Group, PLLC, is based in Little Rock and we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas of Arkansas. To schedule your initial consultation, call our office at 501-400-7355 or submit an online contact form.