What is a Last Will and Testament


A Arkansas Last Will and Testament, when prepared and executed properly by a person who is an adult of sound mind with legal responsibility for his- or herself, is a formal document that specifies how their assets or estate will be managed and distributed after their death. The person who dies is formally referred to as the decedent. If the decedent has minor children, the Last Will and Testament may also be used to designate who they want to care for their children and who they wish to handle their children’s inheritance/finances until each child comes of age (usually 18, but you can designate a different age) to handle their finances on their own.

In a Last Will and Testament, the decedent usually also names a personal representative—or co-personal representatives (two or more persons acting together in this capacity)—to manage the matters of the estate. The personal representative is the person who gathers all of the information about the decedent’s debts and assets, pays outstanding debts using the assets on behalf of the estate, and ensures that the decedent’s property is distributed as specified in the Will, so this is a job with a lot of responsibility, and the personal representative selected is usually someone the decedent really trusts to follow through on the details and with his or her wishes.

If a person dies without having a valid Last Will and Testament (which usually—in most states—means it must be properly witnessed, as well—not just signed), someone will usually be appointed by the court to be the personal representative and will pay the decedent’s debts, liquidizing assets as necessary to do so. Then the remaining assets will be distributed among the decedent’s heirs according to the laws of the state the decedent lived in.

In some states, if one spouse dies leaving behind a husband or wife, that living spouse will inherit all of the decedent’s property in the absence of a Last Will and Testament stating to the contrary. In other cases, the decedent may have specified a particular beneficiary to inherit a life insurance policy, retirement account, or other asset, and that beneficiary designation will dictate who receives those assets in the absence of a Arkansas Last Will and Testament.

The important thing to note is that anyone who wishes to designate how their assets will be distributed after their death should prepare and properly execute a Last Will and Testament to ensure their wishes are known and honored. If they don’t, they may be leaving it up to chance, the laws of the state in which they reside at the time of their death, or a court of law as to how their final affairs will be settled.  Arkansas free information on last will and testament forms.

Last Will Forms in Arkansas

Key Terms And Notions

A last will is both a legal form and a process of administering the deceased's estate under the supervision of a court. This simple form can be mutually beneficial for both parties - the testator (the author of the will) and his heirs (those who inherit the assets, be it the spouse, kids, parents, other relatives, or legal entities). The assets can comprise a wide variety of things - from bank accounts to jewelry, vehicles, and family heirlooms, and today we're going to explain why creating a last will on time is indeed a smart option for residents of every state including Arkansas.

Is it legally binding to compile Last Will in Arkansas?

Formally, last will and testament papers in Arkansas are not binding, yet without a will, Arkansas laws of intestacy will decide on the sharing of the decedent's own properties which, in many cases, runs counter his wishes and plans.

Last will and testament turn out to be a profitable action in terms of carrying out the wishes and managing the properties wisely: first, it provides for personal responsibility for the estate (through appointing a personal representative), next, it can handle the care of minor children (by selecting a guardian), or help build a pet trust or a testamentary trust (the one that cares for people) instead of allowing the court to decide for you.

Legal Terms and Conditions for a Last Will in Arkansas

Before the terms and conditions of a will can be confirmed, the will must be proven in an inheritance court. After that, an executor (a person appointed by the testator to be legally responsible for the sharing of inheritance) has to pay the fees, debts, and taxes due on the estate and proceed to transfer the decedent's assets according to the will.

In Arkansas, if an estate is worth less than $ 50,000 (excluding the estate and other surviving spouse and child benefits) and no claim is filed against it, any Arkansas probate beneficiary has the right to petition the court to waiver the probate procedure.

Here is a concise list of requirements and terms for creating the last will in Arkansas:

  • The testator can not be underage which means less than 18 years old;

  • The testator must be of sound mind which ensures making an independent and willful decision on the distribution of the assets mentioned in the Last Will;

  • The laws in Arkansas allow for sharing the assets with an unlimited number of people including a person's spouse, children, distant relatives, acquaintances and friends, and so on. Similarly, the inheritance may be transferred to a charity organization;

  • The document has to be validated properly and signed by at least two witnesses and the testator himself, all present at the moment;

  • The document must be provided in written form (a crucial detail: Arkansas can recognize holographic wills, whether attested or not, in case they are fully handwritten and signed by the testator himself);

  • The Arkansas Last Will can transfer property to any beneficiary.

Keep in mind that in Arkansas, there is a particular term within which one has to file Probate after death: according to the Arkansas Code, a will must be submitted to the courts within five years since the person's death.

How Are the Terms of a Will Accepted?

To compile a valid will in Arkansas, the testator should declare to two or more witnesses that the document is indeed your will. Their presence is obligatory during the last will signing procedure. The witnesses should in turn sign the will to make sure that its execution was performed properly and they can attest to its validity.

It is a must-know that not all types of property may be distributed by the last will in Arkansas. Among the exceptions, there are entities in a joint lease with inheritance rights that cannot be entrusted. Neither can one change the beneficiary of a life insurance policy according to Arkansas will.

In case that the decedent's estate in Arkansas was estimated as less than $ 50,000 (with an exception of a spouse and child's estate plus other benefits) and no action has been filed against the spouse of that person, any probate receiver in Arkansas can request the court to postpone the probate procedure.

Can I Change The Content of My Last Will or Abolish It?

An Arkansas last will and testament may be modified or even revoked at any time before the testator’s death through compiling a subsequent will form or a codicil performed with similar formal requirements so as to be of full legal force. In such an event, the previous will has to be destroyed physically or be legally replaced with a new will form.

What Will Happen to My Property if I Don't Have a Last Will In Arkansas?

According to the Arkansas laws, a person is not enforced by law to draft and present the Last Will form. However, in this case, such a person acquires the legal status of an "intestate", and the rights to his assets will be distributed to his spouse (as it follows from Arkansas laws, a spouse has to gain a particular amount of shares - mostly ?, according to the doctrine named “dower and curtesy”), or children, parents, or other close or distant relatives. Such a procedure may last considerably longer, and it is the state court that defines the shares.



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