The process of estate administration and distribution after death can be difficult and emotional without the help of qualified and experienced counsel. The Quraishi Law Firm & Wealth Management team handles probate administration on behalf of estates that are guided by will and trust documents, as well as administration of assets owned by a person who dies intestate (without a will). We handle the administration of most of the wills and trusts we draft, but we are able to manage the administration of an estate regardless of whether we drafted the planning documents.
Probate With a Will
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document written to ensure that upon the decedent’s death, the decedent’s property is given to the people specified in the will. For a will to have any legal effect, however, it must be submitted to a probate or county court to prove it was validly executed, that it is the decedent’s last will, and that it has not been revoked.
The application to initiate probate may be made by the executor named in the will or by any heir, devisee, spouse, creditor, or any other persons having a property right in, or claim against, the estate. In addition to offering the will for probate, the applicant can request that the court appoint an executor or administrator for the decedent’s estate if the original choice is not available.
Generally, the application for the probate of a will should occur within four years after the death of the person making the will. If more than four years have passed, the person bringing the will must explain the reason for the delay. Furthermore, all persons who would inherit in the absence of the will must be notified prior to the court considering the application.
Probate Without a Will
When a person dies without a will, the assets that would normally pass to heirs via the will are distributed according to intestate succession laws. These rules vary according to the state of residence but typically pass assets to the closest surviving relative. In Arkansas, for example, if someone dies with a spouse and children still living, the spouse gets one-third of real property in the form of a life estate and one-third of the personal property while the children inherit all of the real property minus the life estate and two-thirds of the personal property. If there are no children, but the person was married, inheritance depends on the length of the marriage. The spouse would inherit everything if the couple was married at least three years. If they were married less than three years, the spouse inherits 50% of intestate property while parents, siblings, or other relatives inherit the remaining 50%.
Assets that aren’t passed through a will, such as life insurance proceeds, retirement accounts, payable on death bank accounts, and property owned with someone else in joint tenancy, are not affected by intestate succession laws. They are passed to the previously designated beneficiary and thus not affected by the probate process.
Typically, the grantor of a living trust keeps a portfolio that is used to ensure a smooth transition to the administrator or trustee. The trust document also contains extensive information explaining the terms of trust and what assets are involved.
As trust attorneys, we can assist with steps such as obtaining an appraisal of the property in the trust for tax purposes, filing necessary tax forms, transferring property, and paying outstanding bills. If needed, our team can also provide guidance on how to ensure the trust is managed in a way that continues to increase the value of the assets or that assets are distributed in full compliance with terms of the trust document.
We’re Here to Help You Move Forward
At Quraishi Law Firm & Wealth Management, we recognize that every client has unique goals and equally unique challenges. So before anything else, we focus on learning more about you, your family, and your relationship with the estate owner. With this kind of approach, we want you to talk with us freely and not worry about the hourly billing clock. Hence, most of our uncontested probate services are offered on a flat-fee basis.
Our estate planning attorneys can discuss your probate and trust administration needs at our Jonesboro and Little Rock office locations. We are also available to meet with clients in our Memphis, Tennessee office, so don’t hesitate to contact us to set an appointment to start the will planning process.