Owings Law Firm
Little Rock phone 501-661-9999
Benton phone 501-303-4577
fax 501-661-8393

Little Rock Wills and Estates Attorneys

Living Trusts, and Filing Wills and Managing Estates

Probate Court and the Probate Process

The probate courts in Arkansas oversee the administration of property after death. The passing of one's property, whether they had a will or not, must be managed by an executor under the supervision of the probate court. Probate Court is the court supervision of the transfer of legal title of personal and/or real property from the estate of the person who has died (the "decedent") to his or her relatives, heirs, or beneficiaries.

When a person passes away who owns personal and real property, the process of transferring those assets can be complicated. The executor of the estate will have to fill out court forms and may have to appear in court on several occasions to:

  • File the will and other estate papers
  • Prove that the will is valid, especially if there is a legal challenge
  • Receive court approval to act as the legal representative on behalf of the estate
  • Identify and inventory the decedent's property and have it appraised to pay debts and taxes
  • Distribute the remaining property

For a family coping with the loss of a family member, probate can be an unpleasant experience. Unfortunately, it can not always be avoided. The process is timely (a minimum of six months from the start of the court process to distribution of assets) and sometime costly, but is required by Arkansas law for most estates. There are some exceptions and different procedures and costs for small estates.

When a will or trust is challenged in probate court, a decedent's last wishes may, unfortunately, result in a lawsuit. That is why it is important to find an experienced Little Rock estate planning attorney who can draft a will or trust that expresses your wishes.

Tips for Avoiding Probate Contests and Estate Disputes

A will or trust dispute can result in a significant delay in the distribution of a decedent's assets, and can also become rather expensive. The executor must pay the cost of litigation for a will contest out of the proceeds of the estate, thereby significantly depleting the beneficiaries' shares. Here are some suggestions for preventing disputes among your beneficiaries:

  • Special Gifts or Bequests. Make a handwritten list of special gifts, such as personal items or keepsakes that you wish to give to a particular person. If you have a living trust or will, you can attach a list of particular special gifts and whom you want to receive them in order to avoid a later dispute.
  • Living Trusts and Wills. A well drafted Will can prevent disputes among heirs to an Estate. Another common method of conveying property is through the use of a Living Trust. A Liviing Trust (called a revocable trust by lawyers) can be set up to be the depository of all assets, such as life insurance policies, investment accounts, bank accounts and similar property. Once the Trustor (the person who set up the Trust) dies, the Living Trust is usually designed to become irrevocable. The Living Trust can then pay funds to heirs or beneficiaries for a certain period of time, or can control the final distribution of the assets of the deceased. The reason many people choose to create Living Trusts is because they can avoid the expense and court supervision required by probating a Will.

We hope that you will the Owings Law Firm if you need help with Estate Planning, creation of a Living Trust, or in connection with the administration of an Estate.

Contact information.

1400 Brookwood Drive, Little Rock, AR 72202
404 W South St, Benton, AR 72015
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