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Fayetteville Wills and Trusts Lawyer

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Life can be hectic. From having a full-time job to having kids, social events, a spouse. You may spend your whole life enjoying it and collecting for your future, however often times people forget to plan for what happens after they die. What happens to all of your things, what happens to money left in bank accounts, who will receive them, can you dictate who in your family gets what possession. You may be familiar with a will, but maybe aren’t sure if you need one, or you may have a will and be wondering if you are able to change it, and if so how?

While it is not something that we want to think about, it is important that you plan out what happens to your worldly possessions when you are no longer here.

What is a Will?

When you die you leave behind something called an estate. An estate generally consists of all of the property that you owned before death, which may include real estate, investments, bank accounts, jewelry, and automobiles. However, when you die who or what dictates how these possessions should be divided amongst your remaining family members and friends.  A Will is a legal document that can name people who will receive assets when an owner dies.

The Will is probably the most common form of estate planning and generally sets forth who will inherit what property. A Will is a powerful and essential legal document to have and if you do not have one, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced Estate Attorney today who can help your draft this document. A Will will often appoint a guardian for minor children or specify the particular type of funeral arrangements that should be made at the time of death.  The Will can also name an executor who will act as your loved ones’ personal representative and will handle the assets in the will and the debts.

However, just because you have a Will does not mean that there will not be any struggle.  All wills must pass through probate which can be a lengthy and expensive process where family members and those mentioned in the will argue over how the assets should be distributed.

estate planning attorney in arkansas

Do You Need a Will Drafted in Fayetteville? 

When you are planning for your future you should consider a variety of estate planning tools such as a trust, health care directives, and financial power of attorney, however arguably the most important document that you can leave behind is a will.

Even if you do not have much property or financial assets that you will leave behind, you may have special items and family heirlooms that you want to ensure stay in the family and go to those who you want them to. A will is a legal document that can help ensure that your final wishes are followed. Additionally, some of the benefits of having a will include:

  • A will can leave money to charities.
  • Helps avoid family disagreements and disputes.
  • A will allows you to leave your possessions to whom you want.
  • You can leave in your will provisions for who should raise your children
  • If you have special funeral arrangements
  • If you want to identify where your property is located.

There are many reasons why you should consider drafting a will, or if you have one that you have not updated in a long time, reasons why you should update your will. The last thing that most people want to do after they have lost a loved one is to argue over money and possessions. While a will still must go through the court’s probate system, a will is a powerful indication to the court of where your possessions should go.

What Happens if I Die without a Valid Will?

If you die without any legal documents that outline how the court should divide up your property then your loved ones are about to go through a process called intestate succession, which will determine how your property is divided. If you die without a valid will you are said to be intestate, which means that you have failed to name a person who will receive assets from your estate.   If you die without a will in Arkansas, the Arkansas laws of intestate succession will determine how your assets are divided.

Additionally, if you do not have a valid will then your family will likely have to undergo a lengthy and often expensive will contest.  A will contest is a formal objection to a will. These are made when a family member does not feel that the will does not match their departed family member’s true intentions. Some of the more common reasons that a person will claim that a will is no valid include:

  • The person was incompetent when they drafted the will – to be competent to draft a will the person must have been at least 18 years old and must have the capacity. In relation to drafting wills, capacity refers to the persons’ knowledge that they know the natural objects and the value and extent of their property.
  • The person was suffering from an insane delusion – an insane delusion is a delusion that interferes with a person’s ability to create a rational will. To prove that a person was suffering from an insane delusion a family member or a person who is challenging the will must show that the drafter believed facts that had no basis in reality.
  • The person was subject to undue influence
  • That they were coerced
  • That the will was fraudulently drafted.

arkansas estate planning attorneys

A person who is challenging a will can challenge either the entire document or a portion of the will.  In the event that you do pass away without a will, the Arkansas Interstate Succession for Assets will divide your property as follows.

  • If you have a spouse but no children, all of your assets pass to your spouse if you have been married for more than three years.
  • If you have a spouse but no children, only one-half of your assets passes to your spouse if you have been married less than three years.
  • The other one-half of your assets will pass to your parents if then living.
  • If you have no then living parents, these assets pass to your siblings, if then living.
  • If a sibling has predeceased, his or her children, step up into the shoes of their parent and inherit that share. This is your nieces and nephews.
  • If you have a spouse and children, your spouse will receive only one-third of your assets. Your children receive two-thirds of your assets.
  • Arkansas Intestate Succession for Land
  • If you have a spouse and children, your spouse will only receive a life estate in one-third of your land. A life estate means that she owns her share of the land for her lifetime. She doesn’t have the right to say who gets the property at her death.

Many people are surprised that the state will determine how their assets will be divided if they die without a will.  The intestate succession law does not take into account if you have not spoken to a family member in years, or if you explicitly did not want them to receive anything from your estate. That is why it is important for you to consider drafting a will so that your loved ones can generally avoid intense family conflicts.

An Arkansas Estate Planning Attorney Can Help You Draft a Will

Whether you are seeking Social Security representation, a personal injury litigator, or help with a wrongful death claim, the lawyers of the lawyers of Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP are eager to get to know you and understand your situation. For your free and confidential legal consultation call us at 479-439-9840 or contact us online.