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Arkansas Probate Lawyers Protect Client Assets and Estates

West Memphis firm helps ensure decedent’s wishes are respected

At Ziegenhorn & Bernard, An Association of Lawyers, we serve as counsel in the probate process by which wills are proved and instructions for estate distribution are carried out. We represent court-appointed executors of estates, who are charged with responsibility for making sure the decedent’s wishes expressed in the will are honored. Our goal is to resolve all legal issues quickly so that the intended beneficiaries receive their bequests without entanglement. This includes dealing with any contests raised to the will, including challenges to the deceased’s mental capacity to make one.

Reliable guide through Arkansas’ probate process

We are adept at counseling representatives of the deceased through all steps in the probate proceeding, which include:

  • Petitioning for probate — A petition is filed, along with the will, in the county where the decedent lived. Notice of probate must be sent to all potential heirs and beneficiaries and also must be published in a local newspaper of general circulation.
  • Appointment of the executor — The Court will issue letters testamentary giving the executor named in the will the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.
  • Taking inventory of the estate’s assets — The executor must gather, organize and appraise the estate assets and file an inventory with the court.
  • Paying taxes — Arkansas does not have an inheritance tax but there are other tax burdens, including federal tax obligations, real estate and personal property taxes, out-of-state taxes, and outstanding debts. The executor must also file an income tax return for the estate.
  • Petitioning for closure — Once all of the creditors’ claims and taxes have been paid, a petition to close the probate must be filed with the court.
  • Distribution of assets — The Court will issue an order directing distribution of the estate’s property to the beneficiaries.

Our attorneys advise executors on how to comply with all aspects of estate administration accurately and completely and we engage experts as needed to assist with property appraisals and other specialized tasks.

Straightforward Arkansas probate firm resolves obstacles efficiently

If there is a contest to the will, usually by heirs or other persons with an interest in the estate, we take all measures necessary to prove that the decedent had the capacity to make a will and that no one exerted undue influence in the will’s creation or amendment. In other cases, we raise challenges to wills on behalf of interested parties with credible claims. Wherever possible, we utilize alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve probate disputes but we carry on traditional litigation where necessary.

Availing clients of Arkansas’ summary probate option for small estates

We also help clients take advantage of Arkansas’ simplified probate process, which allows small estates to be distributed quickly and without procedural hurdles. Known as summary probate, it usually requires only the filing of a claim affidavit after a 45-day waiting period. This process is available where the estate’s personal property (1) does not exceed the amount to which the surviving spouse or minor children are entitled to by law free of debt or (2) is $100,000 or less, not counting the homestead exemption and the statutory allowance for the benefit of a spouse or minor children.

Consult a diligent estate-planning firm in Arkansas to arrange your free initial consultation.

Regardless of an estate’s net worth or the complexity of the distributions involved, we are committed to seeing that the decedent’s legitimate directives are carried out and to protecting the interests of heirs with valid claims. To arrange an initial consultation in your probate matter, call Ziegenhorn & Bernard, An Association of Lawyers, at 870-551-3178 or contact us online.

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Office Location
  • West Memphis Office
    106 Dover Road
    Suite B
    West Memphis, Arkansas 72301
    Phone: 870-732-9100
    Fax: 870-732-9105