This article by Attorney Gary DeWitt, practicing in estate planning, probate, guardianship, and elder law. Get your Protect What Matters Most Meeting now by calling our office at (479)717-6300 or Send a Message or Schedule a Strategy Session
A Will Attorney should help you not only write your Last Will and Testament, but also help you plan out your entire estate for now and later.
A Will Alone Will Not Prevent Probate
A Last Will and Testament standing on its own will not prevent probate! A Will must be admitted by a court of competent jurisdiction before it is even active. Then Probate and Administration, with all of its required filings, must be followed before things can be given out.
Probate Takes Time, Sometimes a Long Time Even With a Will Attorney
With that in mind, you need to know that Probate is a long process, taking from 3 months to many years to complete. In the mean time, the assets are tied up and cannot be given out.
A good will attorney will shorten the process and reduce the requirements as much as possible. But, it just takes time to get it done. Remember, you will be operating at the speed of law.
However, if you have a simple estate and most of your assets can be given outside of probate, a Will is a good choice to handle the small stuff. Without debts or real estate, the gifts in a will can be received in as little as 45 days in Arkansas (as of July 2017).
If a house is involved, then that stretches out another 3 months because of the required advertisement in the newspaper. That is a total of 4 and 1/2 months.
If you leave behind debts, then a full probate and administration must happen. If everybody waives their right to accounting and notice of hearings, it can be done in as little as 6 to 7 months. That is mainly because of the required advertisement in the newspaper, a 3 month window for creditors to make claims, and 6 months for medical claims.
If even 1 person does not waive their rights to accounting and notice, then you can add another 4 months, minimum, to the total, coming to 11 months to a year to complete a simple probate.
If the Will is challenged, then a Will attorney will have to be involved to fight the challenge, wasting even more time and money.
I hope this brief article is helpful.