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