Fayetteville Law Firm | Booneville Law Firm

What happens to your stuff when you die? Do you have a Will, Trust or estate plan?

What happens to your stuff when you die?

The answer to this question depends on a number of things. Do you have a Will? Do you have children? Are you married? Do you have an estate plan? Have you created a trust? All of these factors determine what will happen to your property when you die.

If you do not have a Will

Dying without a Last Will and Testament means that you have died “intestate.” The state where you reside at the time of your death will have laws that determine “intestate succession” and the distribution of your assets upon your death. These laws can dictate something very different than what you might want however. In Arkansas, your heirs at law are first, your natural and/or adopted children. If you die without children and without a Will it can get complicated.

If you have a Will

A Will is one of the cornerstones of any estate plan no matter how simple or complex. It is a legal document that designates a personal representative to handle your affairs and dictates how your property is to be distributed. Dying with a Will means you have died “testate”. For any Will to take effect it has to be probated. To do this, your designated personal representative must file a petition with the court to admit the Will to probate, be approved and appointed by the probate court. The personal representative will then administer the estate with the oversight and supervision of the court. The administration of the estate consists of the personal representative gathering and protecting the assets of the decedent for the benefit of the heirs and any creditors. At the completion of the administration the remaining assets of the decedent are then distributed, as directed by the Will, after the payment of any court approved claims and costs.

Trusts and estate planning

Some individuals wish to avoid the probate process. To do this they work with an experienced estate planning attorney to set up an estate plan. This commonly involves the establishment of trusts. A good estate plan can make your assets immediately available to your heirs and/or spouse upon your death and minimize the costs associated with having to probate an estate. Additionally, it can prevent delays associated with the probate process. The administration of an estate through the probate court takes time. Due to strict requirements, expect at least nine (9) months to a year to complete the probate process if everything runs smoothly. It can take longer if there are problems or disputes amongst heirs or creditors.

Estate planning can be very complicated. You need an attorney experienced in estate planning to make sure your wishes and goals are met.


Leave a Reply


Fayetteville Law Office

(479) 935-8313

909 Rolling Hills Dr.
Fayetteville, AR 72703

Booneville Law Office

(479) 935-8060

4 Village Loop
Booneville, AR 72927

Make a Payment