Wills and Probate. In a will, a person expresses, in writing, what he (or she) wants done with his property after he dies. Arkansas requires that wills be signed and witnessed by at least two people.
Probate is a court proceeding in which final debts are settled and legal title to property is formally passed from the deceased person or “decedent” to his heirs. Probate proceedings take place in the Circuit Court in the county of the decedent’s legal residence at the time of his death. If a person dies intestate, meaning without a will, state law determines how to distribute his property.
If you die intestate – without a wil l- what happens to your property (“estate”) will depend on your marital status and whether or not you have children.
Married With Children
Arkansas law awards one-third (1/3) of the real estate of someone who dies without a will to the surviving spouse for her life. It awards one-third (1/3) of the personal property (money, furniture, jewelry, and “stuff”) to the surviving spouse. The rest of the property goes to the children, regardless of their ages.
Married With No Children
Arkansas laws give only one-third (1/3) of the estate to the surviving spouse. The remainder generally goes to the deceased person’s parents, or if the parents are dead, to brothers and sisters.
Single With Children
When a single person with children dies without a will, Arkansas law provides that the entire estate goes to the children.
Single Person With No Children
In this situation, Arkansas law gives the property to the deceased person’s parents. If both parents are deceased, the property is divided among the brothers and sisters.
You definitely need a will if you have children. Even if you don’t have children, you probably need a will. Arkansas has formal requirements for preparing and signing a will.
You must declare that the document you’re signing is your will
Your signature must be witnessed by at least two or three witnesses, who must sign the will in each other’s presence
Types of Wills
A holographic will is handwritten, with or without witnesses. Arkansas will recognize a holographic will if it is witnessed by at least three credible disinterested witnesses to the handwriting and signature of the testator.
A self-proving will is one that has been witnessed and signed with all the formalities required by state law. A self-proving will saves a great deal of time and effort when it turns out that one or more witnesses can’t be located or are themselves deceased.