Heirship Affidavits – Arkansas
If a deceased person in Arkansas left real property that has not been disposed of by a probated will or estate, an Heirship Affidavit may be used to establish who is in line to inherit this property.
If the decedent has died in Arkansas within the last five years, it is not too late to probate his or her estate, allowing the courts to handle administration of the estate. If more than five years has passed, an Heirship Affidavit may help heirs transfer the decedent’s property.
Arkansas’s Table of Descents
An Heirship Affidavit is a legal document that lists all of the “heirs” of someone. It is more than just a list, though. These affidavits must follow Arkansas’s Table of Descents, as described in Arkansas Code Annotated § 28-9-214.
Arkansas’s Table of Descents describes the order of distribution (following dower/curtesy, homestead rights, and administration of the estate, see A.C.A. § 28-9-206).
Property goes to:
- Children of the decedent and descendants of each child who may have died before decedent.
- If no children or descendants of children survive, to the surviving spouse in fee simple, so long as they were married continuously for three years prior to decedent’s death. If they were married for less than three years, the surviving spouse takes one-half.
- If there is no surviving spouse or descendant, then the decedent’s surviving parents share equally.
- If none of the above exist, to the decedent’s siblings and the descendants of predeceased siblings.
- If none of the above exist, to the decedent’s grandparents, uncles and aunts, or to descendants of predeceased uncles and aunts.
- If none of the above exist, to the decedent’s great grandparents, great uncles and great aunts, or to the descendants of predeceased great uncles and great aunts.
- Then, to the surviving spouse if married less than three continuous years.
- Then, to the heirs of a deceased spouse of the decedent.
- Finally, if none of the above exist, to the county wherein the decedent resided at death.
When asked to draft an Heirship Affidavit, we need two disinterested third parties who can attest to the following information:
- When and where the decedent died, and whether the decedent had a will that was probated;
- The relationship, if any, between the decedent and the third party;
- The sources of knowledge or information concerning the decedent;
- The marital status of the decedent, and the duration of the marriage (more or less than three continuous years?);
- The name of the spouse if the decedent was married; the number of times married and divorced; whether the spouse was alive when decedent died;
- The names of all children of the decedent, and whether they are living or deceased;
- If any children are deceased, the same information noted above must also be provided for that child.
Once the Heirship Affidavit has been drafted, it must be signed in front of a notary by two disinterested third parties that have knowledge of the decedent. This means that two people who are familiar with the decedent’s family and are not listed as heirs can sign the affidavit.
After the affidavit is signed and notarized, it must be recorded in the county land deed records in any county where the decedent owned real property.
Can I draft an Heirship Affidavit myself?
An Heirship Affidavit is an important legal document that must be written clearly and precisely. There are state-specific requirements that must be followed, and most online affidavit forms do not take individual state law into consideration. An incorrectly drafted or executed document can lead to a big, complicated, and expensive mess.
It is always smarter to spend a few hundred dollars to have an affidavit drafted by a licensed attorney in your state, rather than thousands of dollars to fix the damage caused by a poorly drafted document. However, if you have drafted your own affidavit, or used an online form, please consult with a licensed attorney in your state about how to fix the situation.
If you have a deceased relative who lived (or owned property) in Arkansas and you need an Heirship Affidavit, please contact Deborah at The Hardin Law Firm, PLC.
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Last updated: June 15, 2016 at 8:48 am