Everyone knows what a will is, and everyone knows how important having one is, too. Nevertheless, a surprising number of people—close to 70% of all Americans—do not have a written will, nor have they established any trust, drafted beneficiary designations, or made sufficient arrangements to ensure their estate’s longevity.
If you die without a will or a revocable living trust, you do not get to pick who inherits your assets after you—instead, you forfeit that right to an Arkansas state court. And Arkansas state courts have a pre-defined formula to determine who inherits what.
When someone dies without a will, they are said to have died intestate.
Children and Intestacy Proceedings
When an Arkansas court begins to apportion the assets of a person who died intestate, they will prioritize close blood relations:
- If you have children but no spouse, then your children will inherit all of your intestate property.
- If you have a spouse and children, then your spouse will inherit 1/3rd of your real property in the form of a life estate and 1/3rd of your personal property. Your children, conversely, will inherit 2/3rd of your real property—without a life estate—and 2/3rd of your personal property.
While this may seem like a fair split, it can sometimes disadvantage non-biological children.
Even though Arkansas state law treats adopted children the same as biological children, intestacy proceedings can leave others in the dark, including:
- Foster children
- Children born outside of wedlock, if the court has yet to establish paternity
Protecting All of Your Children
Even if you only have biological children, leaving your estate to an Arkansas probate court means your assets—and your children’s inheritance—could be claimed by creditors or contested by distant relatives.
While writing a will can help you designate an inheritance to foster kids or beloved stepchildren, any assets you leave them will still be subject to probate. This can be extremely problematic, especially if you leave behind a complex estate or unresolved family tensions.
An Arkansas estate planning attorney can answer all of your questions and help you create a custom plan to take care of all your loved ones while minimizing the risk of court interference and outside challenges. You may be able to benefit from the establishment of a simple trust or the strategic allocation of beneficiary designations.
Just as each family is different, your estate plan should reflect your family’s unique characteristics and your individual legacy.
Contact Us Today
If you need help writing an ironclad will or setting up a solid trust, send Quraishi Law & Wealth a message today to schedule your initial appointment.