In Arkansas, the probate process plays a crucial role in settling a deceased person’s estate, including the payment of outstanding debts. Many people wonder how this process works and what it entails.
It is important to understand the steps involved in paying debts through probate in Arkansas and the responsibilities of the estate’s personal representative during this process.
Initiating the probate process
The first step in the probate process is to appoint a personal representative, also known as an executor, to administer the deceased’s estate. This individual is responsible for managing the estate’s assets, including paying valid debts and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
Once the court appoints a personal representative, they must notify creditors of the deceased’s passing. Arkansas law requires personal representatives to publish a notice to creditors in a local newspaper for two consecutive weeks. Creditors then have six months from the first publication date to file their claims against the estate.
Paying debts from the estate
The personal representative is responsible for reviewing and validating the claims submitted by creditors. They must ensure that the claims are accurate and legitimate before paying them from the estate’s assets.
In Arkansas, debts have a specific order of priority for payment, which personal representatives must follow. The priority order is as follows:
- Administrative expenses, including court costs and personal representative fees
- Funeral expenses
- Debts and taxes with preference under federal law
- Medical expenses from the deceased’s last illness
- Debts and taxes with preference under state law
- All other debts
If the estate has insufficient assets to pay all valid debts, the personal representative must pay them in the order of priority until the assets have run out.
Distributing the remaining assets
After paying all valid debts and expenses, the personal representative can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the deceased’s will or, if no will exists, according to Arkansas intestate succession laws.