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Attorneys Providing Peace Of Mind In Arkansas Real Estate Matters

Real estate is often the largest asset that individuals own. Whether ownership is changing hands through purchase and sale or being bequeathed to heirs in an estate plan, much is at stake. Therefore, the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney is crucial to ensure that there are no mistakes or oversights.

At Jurist Law Group, PLLC, real estate transactions are an important and vital part of our practice. We assist many clients with title searches and conveyances to enhance our estate planning activities. Often times, clients need and want the assurance that their real estate transactions are properly handled in accordance with Arkansas law. In addition, we can assist realtors who are selling property through probate, and we assist For Sale by Owner transactions through private negotiations and transfer of property without a realtor. If you have a real estate need, do not hesitate to call us for a consultation. We can help.

Answers To Common Real Estate Questions

Below, we’ve provided answers to some of the real estate questions clients most often ask us.

What are the options for transferring real estate ownership?

Legal conveyances (transfer of property rights) can be accomplished through various means, including:

  • Executing a deed
  • Admitting a will to probate
  • Creating an affidavit of inheritance
  • Filing a petition to determine heirship of non-probated property

Our attorneys can help you understand which options are available to you and which would be most appropriate based on the unique details of your case.

What happens to property owned at death?

If you own real estate titled in your name upon your death, it will go through probate before it passes to your beneficiaries – even if a will exists. In fact, a will is a ticket to probate. In Arkansas, the probate process takes a minimum of six months except for estates less than $100,000 which can take a minimum of three months.

Are there financial liabilities to be aware of when gifting or receiving real estate?

Before real estate can be sold or distributed in probate, the estate is responsible for paying expenses such as taxes, insurance, utilities, and general upkeep of the property. The estate is also responsible for final debts and expenses, including funeral, court costs and attorney fees. If insufficient cash is available, then beneficiaries will have to find a way to pay the probate costs and selling the real estate may be the only way to cover the costs associated with a transfer of a decedent’s real property through probate. However, proceeds from life insurance policies or cash received through POD designations from investment accounts or banking institutions are not required to be spent on probate costs, but practically such proceeds may have to be spent if the estate has insufficient proceeds to avoid the sale of real estate to pay the debts of the decedent. Clearly, a serious dilemma could exist.

What are the ways to avoid probate of real estate?

There are multiple ways to avoid probate of real property upon death. These include:

  • Conveying property to a trust or to a legal entity such as a limited liability company, corporation or partnership
  • Holding property as joint tenants
  • Using life estate deeds and beneficiary deeds

Each of these methods has its own benefits and drawbacks, which we would be happy to discuss with you during an initial consultation.

Do I need to be strategic about real estate transfer to avoid Medicaid recovery actions?

Yes, it is important to keep this potential liability in mind. Arkansas allows a special type of deed known as a “beneficiary deed.” In other states, this deed may be referred to as a “transfer on death deed” or “lady bird deed.” Through this deed, you can designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries who will inherit your real estate outside of probate upon your death. One drawback to a beneficiary deed is it does not avoid liens on the property.  One major benefit to a beneficiary deed in Arkansas is that the Arkansas Legislature amended the law in 2021 so that a beneficiary deed will now avoid estate recovery by the Arkansas Medicaid Program if the deceased person was on Medicaid during his or her lifetime for long-term care.

Life-estate deeds also avoid the threat of Medicaid recovery. They can also be a very useful tool to avoid probate while preserving the property for heirs without fear Medicaid will take it away from them.

One of the biggest mistakes we see in trying to avoid Medicaid recovery and probate is to deed your home to your children outright. This is a bad idea because if your children end up in legal problems, get divorced, get sued for whatever reason, or go into bankruptcy, you could lose your home and have to move out. Also, if your children sell the home after you pass away, they will have to pay capital gains for the difference in what they sold it for less what you paid for it. So we highly discourage the deeding of the home to children outright, especially if you are living in the home.

Get Answers To Your Real Estate Questions During An Initial Consultation

Based in Little Rock, Jurist Law Group, PLLC, serves clients throughout the surrounding areas of Arkansas. If you have questions about real estate or any elder law related matter, contact our firm to schedule an initial consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys. Just call 501-400-7355 or reach out online.