Northwest Arkansas Probate Attorney

We focus on probate so you can focus on family.

Losing a loved one is tough…navigating through the maze of the courts makes it tougher. 

It is relatively easy to navigate, if you know what you are doing and the right order to do things in. 

Find out if you even need to go through the ordeal.

Caring, Compassionate, Personal Service from an Attorney

Caring, Compassionate, Knowledgeable, & Understanding Service

Personal attention from an attorney, not a paralegal or other “specialist.”

Out attorneys use the latest, peer reviewed, processes and documentation so you get the best possible outcome.

Meet Gary – Northwest Arkansas Probate Attorney

I understand what it’s like to go through probate as a non-attorney…  I know how time consuming, confusing, and scary it can be…

My dad passed away before I went to law school.  His passing was the reason I went to law school.

You see, after going through his probate, I thought there must be a better way to do this…So I went to law school; studied all I could on preventing probate and estate planning; and became a lawyer.

Now I spend my time doing probate and estate planning work.  For those that haven’t planned, or didn’t fully follow their plan, I do the probate. Since I’ve been through it myself, I know how frustrating the entire process can be and work with you in an understanding and empathetic manner.

And, I know in my heart, that I do the best I can for each and every person.

DeWitt Law Firm is Trusted By

estate planning stars

15 of 15.  Miracle for Sure.

S.D.

estate planning stars

We have trusted DeWitt Law Firm with our estate planning! We are pleased that all our t’s are crossed and our eyes dotted! Thank you Gary and Winnie!

M.H.
Fayetteville, Arkansas

estate planning stars

Thank you again for being such nice people. I was very on edge about all of this. Thanks for taking the time to make me feel at ease and helping me through this process.

D.S.
Springdale, Arkansas

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2016 Very Best Lawyer Award
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Our Team of Professionals Are Ready to Help You

  • Find the decedent’s assets and property
  • Secure the estate property
  • Send notifications to the creditors and other “interested parties”
  • Value and appraise the property
  • Manage the estate property
  • Pay valid claims against the estate
  • Distribute the estate assets
  • Report to the Probate court
  • Get Probate Court approval as needed

How it Works…

 

1. Schedule an Appointment

The introductory meeting is designed to clarify and understand your unique situation.

2. Together We Create a Plan

Based on your concerns and goals, we come up with a map to navigate the legal maze.

3. Get Peace of Mind

With your plan charted, we’ll get you through probate with the least hassles possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Probate

No. 

Some things don’t go by operation of law. 

For example, life insurance doesn’t go through probate.  Neither do accounts with beneficiary designations.

Generally, most assets owned by a descendant are deemed probate assets. Some exceptions include assets that are in a trust, assets that have designated beneficiaries, and assets owned as joint tenants and tenants by the entireties.

When a person passes and has a Last Will and Testament, we call it testate.  

If a person passes without a will, then it is called intestate.  If the person was intestate, that is no Last Will and Testament, the Court will use the laws of Arkansas to decide how to divide up the property.

If the person died without a will (known as “intestacy”), state law provides a list of those who could serve in the capacity of executor and provides how the assets are distributed.

No. The will must be admitted by the court before it can be accepted by a bank. Without such proof, a bank has no way to know whether the Will presented is the proper and last will of the deceased individual.

Once the Will is admitted, the clerk must issues Letters.  These Letters give the personal representative the authority to manage the estate assets until distribution.

Yes. Even if your loved one wasn’t rich, his or her debts and taxes must be paid before any remaining assets are distributed.

Otherwise, creditors and the IRS may try to recover their claim, and they have the right to pursue anyone who received the decedent’s money or property.

It’s a lot less costly and risky to open an estate and administer it properly in the first place.

Probate is the judicial process whereby a will is “proved” in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased, or whereby the estate is settled according to the laws of intestacy in the state of residence of the deceased at time of death in the absence of a legal will.

No more, no less. Most people think of it as the entire process.

If the decedent didn’t have a Will (“intestate”), then technically it is only intestate succession. But, for convenience, we’ll call it probate. What follows after that is estate administration.

If there is a Will, then the instructions in the Will are followed. If there is not a Will, the State has written a plan for distributing the property and those instructions are followed. The State’s plan without a Will is called “Intestate Succession”. It is a form of estate administration under the tight supervision and scrutiny of the Court.

Since we cannot sign away our property anymore, the Court has to sign for us. The law has a way to transfer our property and pay off any valid debts we have left behind.

The Court picks a person to oversee the process (“Personal Representative, Executor, Executrix, Administrator, or Administratrix”). This Personal Representative will oversee the management and distribution of the estate assets.

With or without a Will, the decedent’s assets must be identified, inventoried, valued, safe guarded, and finally distributed. The distribution will happen either by the instructions in the Will, or by the State’s laws on distribution if there isn’t a Will.

Probate is the process overseen by the court of admitting the Last Will and Testament (if there is one), paying bills, and distributing the final estate. It includes locating all the property, safeguarding it, valuing it, and distributing it. It also includes locating all the creditors and paying all the bills and debts of the deceased. Finally, after all of that is done, what’s left of the estate is distributed.

In Arkansas, Probate is required if the estate is valued above $100,000 or bills are owed even if there is a Will.

A Last Will and Testament requires Probate to be validated by the court and admitted by the court. Without probate (and estate administration), there can be no distribution of the property.

Technically, Probate is admitting and validating the Will. Then the rest of the process is called estate administration.

Probate is the judicial process whereby a will is “proved” in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased, or whereby the estate is settled according to the laws of intestacy in the state of residence of the deceased at time of death in the absence of a legal will.

Technically, probate doesn’t take very long. Just long enough for a Judge to review the Will and validate it.

What takes the longest is the administration of the estate. That is paying the bills and distributing the property. In Arkansas, you can expect at least 7 months to finish. 6 months of that is the time for any outstanding creditors to make claims.

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Northwest Arkansas Probate Attorney serving Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville, and More