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Bond Law Office July 28, 2020

The majority of Americans are busy trying to pay the bills and cater to their family. The last thing they think about is their own mortality. In fact, according to a 2015 survey by Harris Poll, approximately 64% of Americans don't have a will, trust, or estate plan. What happens to your loved ones and assets when you die or become incapacitated suddenly?

Settling the final affairs of the deceased without a will or estate plan can be complicated. At the Bond Law Office, we can help you understand the probate and estate planning process. With years of experience and expertise, we provide the essential legal guidance you need to help you with your estate planning or probate. We proudly serve clients in Fayetteville, Harrison, Fort Smith, and the Arkansas River Valley area.

Common Probate Terms Used in Arkansas

Understanding the terms used in probate is helpful in understanding the process. The following are some of the terms used in Arkansas probate and estate planning matters:

Probate: Probate is a court-supervised process required to settle the final affairs of the deceased. In probate, all the deceased's assets and estate are gathered and evaluated, debts and taxes are paid, and assets are transferred to the beneficiaries.

Personal Representative: A personal representative is an executor for the estate of the deceased individual. The personal representative handles the probate where the decedent left behind a will. If the deceased died intestate (without having a valid will), the personal representative would serve as the administrator.

Administrator: A probate administrator is an executor appointed by the court to handle the probate where the decedent did not leave behind a will or doesn't name an executor. In Arkansas, the law provides that the court gives preference to certain relatives and heirs in naming the probate administrator.

Intestate Succession: In Arkansas, the property of a person who died without having a valid will or estate plan in place is called intestate succession. Intestate succession laws are used to determine the order of who inherits the decedent's estate when a person dies without having a valid will.

Guardianship: A guardianship is an order given by the court to a person (guardian) to assume control over another person (ward). The guardianship may give the guardian control over the ward, the ward's property, and inheritance.

Beneficiary: A beneficiary is an individual, institution, business, or trustee, who inherits the property or receives benefits under a will.

Heir: An heir is an individual who inherits the property or receives benefits under the intestate succession laws when there is no valid will.

Estate: The estate includes all of the property, assets, belongings, and possessions of the deceased.

Decedent: The decedent is the person who passed away, and their will (or estate) is being probated.

Order of Probate: In Arkansas, the court has to approve that a will is valid and allow the executor or personal representative to distribute the decedent's assets according to the terms of the will. This order is referred to as the Order of Probate.

Will: A will is a legal declaration of a person's intent regarding how his or her estate should be distributed to beneficiaries or heirs.

Letters of Administration: The letters of administration are issued by the court clerk after a court enters an Order of Probate. These letters affirm the administrator's right to represent the probate estate.

How Hiring Legal Counsel Can Help

Probate is a complex and emotional process. Having a knowledgeable Arkansas probate and estate planning attorney on your side is crucial to preserve your family's assets and for proper guidance in the probate process.

The attorneys at Bond Law Office are fully prepared to provide detailed legal guidance and advocacy on all matters of probate and estate planning. We will offer you compassionate counsel and vigorous litigation strategies. Call us today to receive the experienced guidance you need to navigate through the entire probate and estate planning process.

Work with Our Experienced Probate & Estate Planning Attorneys in Fayetteville, Arkansas Today

Probate is a difficult process to endure but you don't have to go through it alone. Contact Bond Law Office today for a free one-on-one consultation when creating your estate plan or you settling your loved one’s affairs. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the process and help you navigate key decisions. We are proud to serve clients in Fayetteville, Harrison, Fort Smith, and the Arkansas River Valley area.