Wills for Estate Planning
A Will is the primary tool of the probate system. Your Will is like a letter to the Court telling the Court how you want your property distributed. Then you must make sure that you prove to the Court that all your property is collected and appraised, and all your bills and taxes are paid, before your property can be distributed to your heirs.
In Arkansas, the administration usually takes 6 to 18 months. During this time, the deceased person’s property must be inventoried and appraised. Heirs must be notified. Estate and inheritance taxes, if any, must be paid. Contested claims, if any, must be settled. Creditors must be notified and paid. If all of this is not done before the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate, the personal representative will be personally responsible for those claims. As a result, most personal representatives won’t distribute property until they are sure all claims have been settled.
Because probate is a public legal proceeding, your estate may become a matter of public record. This means that anyone — including nosy neighbors and salespeople — can go to Court to find out the balance in your savings account, the value of your stocks, even the appraised value of your diamonds.