Estates go through formal processes before property passes on to heirs. The details of these administrative procedures depend on various factors.
This article looks at the three general categories of estate administration in Arkansas. Please note that the processes and requirements might be different in other states.
1. Small estate administration
The law allows a simplified process for estates with values under $100,000. Essentially, estates may bypass probate when, in addition to the monetary limit, the following conditions are true:
- There are no outstanding claims against the estate
- It has been 45 days since the death of the decedent
If eligible, a distributee would submit a formal affidavit. If an estate is not eligible, there could still be various strategies for people to accelerate or simplify the probate process. These might include the use of complex legal instruments, shared assets, lifetime giving and insurance policies.
2. Uncontested estates
An uncontested estate passes through probate without any issues. After all interested parties receive a notice and the court has all of the paperwork, the estate resolves and the process is over. Estate planning also has a role in helping assets pass on in this conflict-free manner.
3. Contested probate
If one of the interested parties has a problem with any aspect of the estate’s distribution, that party may submit, in writing, the reason why they intend to contest. After a judge hears both sides of the argument, the court would issue a decision about how to proceed.
The probate process might be intimidating, but it exists to make sure assets pass fairly and legally. With that in mind, it makes sense that there are some formal processes involved.