What happens to my property if I die without a will?
It happens, people die every day and do not have a will. What happens to their property when they pass away? Most assume it goes to their spouse or their children, but sometimes it isn’t as simple as that. Arkansas has addressed these and other issues with the Arkansas Inheritance Code of 1969.
First, Kids and spouse
Under Arkansas code 28-9-214, Table of Descents, when you die without a will, your heritable estate (the part of the estate that passes by inheritance, not everything passes as inheritance) passes to your children or the descendants of your children. If you have no decedents, your heritable estate passes onto your surviving spouse if you have been married for at least three years. If you have been married less than three years, and have no children, the surviving spouse only gets 50%.
This means for a couple that has been married for less than three years and does not have children, the surviving spouse only gets HALF of the estate! There are exceptions, and we will discuss some of them below.
But wait, what about Dower and Curtesy?
Arkansas Code 28-9-206 provides that the rights of heirship will be subject to: the dower or curtesy of the surviving spouse; the homestead rights of the surviving spouse and children (read more about dower, curtesy, and homestead exemptions here); all statutory rights and allowances; any rights of a surviving spouse in respect to income tax refunds made pursuant to a joint federal income tax return; and the administration of the estate, if any.
Next, Parents and siblings
Next, if there is no spouse or descendants, then the estate passes to the deceased’s parents.
Or, if there are no descendants but there is a spouse of less than three years, that remaining 50% of the estate will pass to the deceased’s parents.
If there are no descendants or parents, the estate passes to brothers or sisters (or the descendants of brothers and sisters).
Then, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins
If there are no descendants, no parents, no brothers and sisters (or descendants of brothers or sisters), then the estate passes to surviving grandparents, uncles, and aunts (or their descendants.) Lastly, the estate passes to great-grandparents, great-uncles, and great-aunts (or their descendants.)
Don’t let the State decide WHO GETS YOUR PROPERTY!
I hope that you can see how restrictive and flawed allowing the law to decide the distribution of your estate can be. Also, the portion of your estate each section gets is set based on the number in that class. If you have three children and no will, then they inherit a third equally and there is no way to keep someone from inheriting some of your property. Read more information about why nearly every person needs a will.
If you need assistance with your estate plan in Arkansas, please contact The Hardin Law Firm, PLC, or a licensed attorney in your state.
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DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this web site is intended to convey general information. It should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. It is not an offer to represent you, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship.
Last updated: October 2, 2017 at 15:13 pm