What Happens If I Die Without a Will?

January 22, 2016

I am too busy.  I do not want to think about it.  I will not be here, so I don't care.  Whatever your excuse, not planning your estate will have consequences.

Right now the estate tax credit is so high that estates under $5,430,000 pay no estate tax.  But, we do not plan our estates just to deal with Uncle Sam.  We plan our estates because if we do not, the State of Arkansas will.

After death, most joint ownerships automatically become the property of the surviving owner.  Life insurance benefits with named beneficiaries pay directly to the beneficiaries.  Accounts with "Payable on Death" and "Transfer on Death" designations transfer with minimal paperwork. 

For most of the remaining assets, Arkansas requires that the children divide everything. However, the spouse does have some rights.  The surviving spouse is entitled to one-third of the real property for life (a right to the property but cannot make major decisions, like selling the property, without the agreement of the children) and one-third of the personal property. 

If there are no children, then all of the assets belong to the spouse if they were married for more than three years.  If they were married less than three years, then the surviving spouse receives half the remaining assets. 

If there are no children and no spouse, then the parents receive all of the assets (or the half that the spouse of less than three years does not get).  If there are no children, no spouse, and no parents, then siblings take everything.  The list continues until an heir can be found. 

Whether you plan or the state plans for you, something will happen to the assets you worked your whole life to acquire.  Why not be the one to decide?

CALL 501-984-5098

307B Carpenter Dam Road
Hot Springs, AR 71901

100 Plaza Carmona Place
Hot Springs Village, AR 71909