Probate Attorneys | Little Rock, AR
Professional establishment of wills, trusts, guardianship documents, and more.
A probate proceeding is the legal process by which a court determines the validity of a will. If there is no will, the probate court will determine who the heirs are and recognize or authorize the legal transfer of property to them. Where there is no will, assets are distributed according to state statutes and other laws.
One of the big this problems with the probate process is that it can be lengthy and expensive. It usually takes a minimum of nine to 12 months if there are no contests or disputes from family members or other interested parties. If there is real estate to sell, probate can take much longer. It is not unusual for a proceeding to last two years, and it can go on for many years if heirs cannot be located or there are disputes. It can get quite expensive.
Our experienced probate attorneys in Little Rock, Arkansas can help you navigate this process. There are many laws and regulations to understand, and we can make sure your rights are upheld.
If property is located in a state other than Arkansas, there must be a probate proceeding filed in that state. This is known as an ancillary proceeding. The main probate estate is usually filed in the state where the largest amount of property of the decedent is located. Sometimes it is based on the greater value of the estate assets.
One of the reasons that probate takes so long is there is an initial waiting period of six months after notice has been published in a newspaper or legal publication to advise creditors of the time limit to file claims against the estate. Where creditor of the decedent is known, that creditor must be notified as soon as possible after determination. The publication of this period is for unknown creditors.
Very little if anything belonging to a decedent can be distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries prior to the determination of creditors and liabilities of the estate. Often assets are tied up during this period. There must also be a determination of whether taxes are owed by the estate. Something to note is that the family has no control over certain legal determinations made by statutes and probate courts.
A proceeding is filed in a public court so that everything is known to anyone who cares to search for information. In many counties, the information is online and readily visible. This cannot be avoided. A trust, however, remains private unless litigation ensues.
Avoid probate whenever possible. Establishing a trust and other preplanning is the best way to do this. Establishing a trust or preparing documents such as a beneficiary steed may incur a little extra cost up front, but will usually result in less cost to the estate in the future.
The decision to choose a will or a trust is often driven by tax considerations. A tax professional should be consulted at all times to determine the best options when creating an estate plan and choosing the right documents.
If your loved one’s estate is going through probate, you need an experienced attorney to help. Destiny McHughes at The Destiny Law Firm provides trusted guidance in all wills, trusts, and estate planning matters. Contact us to set an appointment for a consultation today.