Little Rock Probate Attorney

Providing Estate Planning Services to Clients Across Arkansas through their Little Rock, Searcy, and Stuttgart offices.

If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, we extend our heartfelt sympathies and pray the peace that passes all understanding though our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, be poured on you and your family.  

We understand the last thing you want to worry about is taking care of your deceased loved one’s legal affairs and legally transfer their property to the proper people. Arkansas’s probate process is complex; however, our mission at Niblock & Associates is to simplify it by lifting that burden from you and your family’s shoulders and carrying it for you.  We have traveled the road of Probate many times and know how to successfully navigate it.  We can help by being your family’s hero in taking care of this matter for you.

What is Probate in Arkansas?

Probate in Arkansas, regarding a deceased person’s estate, is the process of transferring a deceased person’s property to the proper living person or persons.  Think of it like this, while living, you can generally give your property to another person, either by freely giving it to them, selling it to them, or signing some document giving it to them.  However, once you die you can no longer do this because you are no longer here. Probate is the legal process that empowers a judge to declare, by an order of the probate court, that property should be transferred to a proper person and appoints and authorizes someone (called a personal representative of the estate) to carry that order out. 

When is Probate Necessary in Arkansas?

The general rule is, Probate is necessary in Arkansas when a deceased person owns any property after their death regardless of whether they have a Will or not.  There are exceptions to this general rule as some property can pass to the proper person by operation of law or contract outside of probate; however, any estate property remaining needs legal attention.  Additionally, there is an exception to being required to do a “full probate” when the property value is less than a certain amount, allowing for an abbreviated process called a “Small Estate.” 

Be Your Family’s Hero by calling (501) 299-5963 today for a free consultation or use our convenient online contact form to schedule a consultation!  We want to guide you through your family’s probate or estate situation and help you decide what action is best for your family. 

Why Should an Estate be Probated in Arkansas?

What many people don’t realize until they are faced with finalizing the estate of a loved one, is all estate property must be probated and are not immediately transferred to the proper person even when the deceased person has a Will.

“Why should an estate be probated in Arkansas?” is very similar to the question of “What is probate in Arkansas?” It provides a legal process of transferring the deceased person’s property to the proper persons because the deceased person is not able to give or sign the property over to them. However, there is more to the story. 

The probate court must also declare who the proper person or persons are to receive estate property, which is determine by whether there is a Will. If the deceased person left a Will, they are declared to have died “Testate,” and the Will determines who will receive the estate property.  Without a Will, the deceased person is declared to have died “Intestate,” and the laws of “intestate succession” apply.  We call intestate succession the “government plan” because it doesn’t care what the deceased person wanted to happen, it provides a one-size-fits-all plan of distribution, which gives preference to a surviving spouse and their blood line in determining who will receive estate property. 

In Arkansas, we do not inherit debt.  In some civilizations, if your father owed a debt, you could inherit that debt and be legally required to repay it, even though you had nothing to do with it.  To balance this, the law requires the deceased person’s estate to pay their left-over debt before their beneficiaries receive property. Probate includes a process of allowing creditors to make a claim against the estate within a certain time. After the time has expired, any potential creditor claim not filed is barred from consideration. 

Who Should Probate an Estate in Arkansas?

The person who probates an estate in Arkansas is determined by a few factors. If the deceased person left no Will, then any “qualified” interested person of the estate could probate it, including a creditor, is called an “Administrator.”  An Administrator should be responsible and trustworthy, it is usually best if they are a resident of Arkansas, of proper age, not a felon and willing to work with the estate’s attorney and follow the orders of the court. Usually, an Administrator is a close family member or friend of the deceased person.

If the deceased person has a Will, then the Will should direct who will probate it, and is called an “Executor.”

Even if you are not sure whether you need to probate the estate of a loved one that has died, we want to help you be your family’s hero by guiding you through the situation. Call (501) 299-5963 now for a free consultation or use our convenient online contact form to schedule a consultation today!

How does Probate Work in Arkansas?

Probate in Arkansas is a process started by someone interested in a deceased loved one’s estate by contacting Niblock & Associates and determining that probate is necessary.  The process generally is as follows:

  1. Preparation and filing a verified Petition to Open the estate of the deceased person in the proper probate court.  If the person had a Will, it would be submitted along with the Petition. 
  2. Prove to the court the death of the deceased person, indicate their heirs, estimate the value of estate assets, disclose any potential creditors, name the person to be the Executor/Administrator of the estate and show they are the fit and the proper person to do so, and if there is a Will, show the Will is valid in all technical requirements.
  3. Obtain an Order Opening Estate signed by the Probate Judge opening the estate and appointing the Executor/Administrator of the estate.
  4. Obtain Letters of Authority from the court giving the Executor/Administrator legal power manage the estate.
  5. Give Notice of Probate to all known creditors, potential heirs, or beneficiaries.
  6. Give Notice of Probate and Filing of Claims through the newspaper allowing creditors time to file any claims they might have.
  7. Prepare & File an Inventory and valuation of all estate property.
  8. Process any claims filed and resolve any tax issues.
  9. If property needs to be sold, obtain permission from the Court to sell.
  10. Prepare and file an Accounting at the end of the administration.
  11. Once the estate has been administered, and claims settled, prepare and file Petition to Disburse and Close the estate by obtaining court authority to pay the cost of administration, pay any creditor claim and pay or transfer the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
  12. Obtain a Hearing date with the court for the Petition to Disburse and Close and provide Notice of Hearing to interested parties.
  13. Appear at Hearing and have trial.
  14. Obtain an Order to Disburse from the court on how the funds or property are to be disbursed, and if real property, the Order should direct the Executor/Administrator to transfer the real property by Fiduciary’s Deed to the proper person.
  15. Pay out the funds from the estate and transfer any property to whom and by the means directed.
  16. Prepare and file a Report of Distribution showing compliance with the Order to Disburse the estate, and a prepare and file a Petition to Close and Discharge the Personal Representative.
  17. Upon receiving the Order Closing, the case is over.

As you can see the Probate Process is complex even in a very routine case and should take between nine (9) and eighteen (18) months depending on the heir’s cooperation, the claims filed and whether certain property needs to be sold from the estate, such as real estate. There are many traps for the unaware that can hurt a case. Considering the unpredictability of probate court and with so much at stake, you can’t afford to go into court alone. 

The experienced Little Rock probate attorneys at Niblock & Associates, serving the state of Arkansas from their Little Rock, Searcy and Stuttgart Offices can help guide you through the probate process with complete confidence. Be Your Family’s Hero by hiring the firm that will lift the burden of probating your loved one’s estate from you and your family’s shoulders and call  Niblock & Associates today at (501) 299-5963 for a free consultation or use our convenient online contact form to schedule a consultation today!

Do You Need an Attorney to Probate an Estate in Arkansas?

Transferring a deceased person’s property to the proper people is extremely important in our society.  Therefore, there are many legal requirements that must be followed with precision before the proper people receive the benefits of their loved one’s estate.  At minimum, probating an estate is not a simple process.  It requires the ability to perform a high level of legal analysis to map out the proper course after considering the specific facts of the case, the desires of the people involved, and the law, not to mention the quirks of the assigned judge.  Additionally, one must possess the capacity to perform the tasks listed above in “How does Probate work in Arkansas?” 

In truth, to probate an estate in Arkansas, you need the legal expertise, wisdom, and experience of a team of Probate Attorneys, such as Niblock & Associates.  Be Your Family’s Hero, take care of your family’s estate situation by calling Niblock & Associates now at (501) 299-5963 for a free consultation or use our convenient online contact form to schedule a consultation today!

Why Clients Can Trust Niblock & Associates to Probate their Loved One’s Estate.

At Niblock & Associates, we have helped families throughout Arkansas since 1988. Our first Probate case was filed in 1988 when my brother was shot and killed. Shortly after that, I Probated the Estate of my grandmother and several years back probated my dad’s estate. I mention this to let you know we understand what your family is going through. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys help families resolve their loved one’s estate with as few disruptions as possible and free up your time by performing or assisting in the primary duties required to finalize your loved one’s estate.  Our goal is to eliminate stress for our clients and ensure all estate matters are handled thoroughly and professionally. 

The legal professionals working with us are lawyers, paralegals, and assistants with over 125 years of combined experience. Since founding our firm, we have handled thousands of cases of various types, and we know what it takes to help your family navigate the probate process.  Be Your Family’s Hero by taking care of your loved one’s estate by calling (501) 299-5963 now for a free consultation or use our convenient online contact form to schedule a consultation today!

Is there a way to Avoid Probating an Estate in Arkansas?

Yes. Folks can avoid probating an estate in Arkansas if they plan properly before their death. However, once a person dies, their estate plan is fixed and cannot be changed.  Probate court provides a necessary service, but many families avoid probate by estate planning using a Trust.  Obviously, it does no good to cry over spilled milk, however, you can consider your own estate situation and take corrective action to chart a new course for your estate if you want to avoid probate. 

If you would like to consider you estate planning to see about avoiding probate, let Niblock & Associates help you Be Your Family’s Hero! Call (501) 299-5963 for a free consultation or use our convenient online contact form to schedule a consultation today!

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