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FindLaw attorneys have created Arkansas will forms that you can complete quickly and easily from the comfort of home. With our step-by-step process, you can get a customized Arkansas will from the convenience of your home computer.
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Arkansas Will Forms at Your Convenience
In Arkansas, if you die without a valid last will and testament, your assets will be distributed according to default state laws (“intestacy laws”). In many cases, these laws might not distribute your property according to your preferences. If you would prefer to make your own choices about who receives your assets rather than leaving it up to the state, you will need to create a will to make your wishes known.
Arkansas Last Will and Testament Options for Every Family
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Answer Key Questions
In order to get started, you need a list of your assets, accounts, contact information of important people, and wishes for the future.
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Print and sign your documents according to the instructions. This may include signing in front of witnesses or a notary.
What’s Next to Make My Arkansas Will Valid?
If you want a will, you can hire a lawyer or use a will form from a reliable source. If you use a form, follow these steps: See full process
List your assets and debts
To help your executor distribute your property, you should make a list of what you own. Make sure to include all of your personal property and real property. Real property is real estate like your house, vacation homes, and land. Personal property includes all of your other property, such as vehicles, furniture, jewelry, accounts, and life insurance policies. If possible, make a list of your debts too. This will help your executor more efficiently pay off your obligations and distribute your assets.
Name your beneficiaries
Beneficiaries are the individuals or entities you choose to receive your assets. Depending on your situation, you may choose to name trusts or even charitable organizations as beneficiaries. You may need to create trusts if you have loved ones who will need someone to manage their finances on their behalf. If you have special needs loved ones or minor children, trusts allow you to name a trustee to manage their finances for them.
Choose your executor
In Arkansas, you can name an executor (sometimes referred to as a personal representative) in your will. An executor’s duty is to pay off your debts and then distribute your remaining property according to your last will and testament. Many people choose a close family member like a spouse or an adult child to carry out this role. Executors should be over 18 years old, of sound mind, and residents of Arkansas. If you do not name anyone, the probate court will choose an executor on your behalf.
Sign your will
To make your will legally valid, you must sign it or direct someone to sign it for you. You will need at least two competent witnesses who will also sign, acknowledging that they observed you execute your will. You should choose witnesses who do not stand to gain anything through your will (“disinterested witnesses”). If your witnesses are beneficiaries of your will, the probate court may void part of their inheritance.
Choose people to care for your minor children
Find a secure place to store your will
You should let your family know that you have created a will and hand out copies to your executor and lawyer if you have one. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your will in a secure place that your family members know about. A popular option is to keep a copy of your will in a locked safe or safe deposit box that a trusted person can access.
You May Want To Speak With a Lawyer if You:
- Have a past divorce, blended family, or other complex family situation
- Have a high-value estate
- Own a business
- Want to create a special needs trust
- Want legal review of your completed will
Ready to get started on your Arkansas will? It’s free to start.Create My Will
Arkansas Last Will and Testament FAQs
Similar to other states, Arkansas has some basic legal requirements for wills:
- An Arkansas will must be in writing. Oral wills are not legally valid.
- You must be at least 18 years of age to create a legally valid will.
- You must be of sound mind when you sign your will.
- You (the “testator“) must sign the will.
- Two witnesses should be present when you sign your will. You should choose disinterested witnesses. In other words, your witnesses should be people who are not beneficiaries and who do not stand to gain anything from your will.
If you die without a valid will in Arkansas, your assets will be distributed according to the state’s default laws (“intestate succession” laws). If you would rather make your own choices about how to distribute your property, you should create a customized last will and testament to make your wishes known. With FindLaw, you can get an Arkansas will personalized to you in under an hour.
A will is the primary estate planning document that you use to distribute your assets. With a will, you can decide who will receive your property after your death and name guardians for minor children.
A living will is a legal document you use to make health care decisions just in case you were ever to become incapacitated. Your family and medical providers would then look to your living will when deciding on your health care options. A living will does not provide for the distribution of your assets and it is only valid during your lifetime.
Arkansas law does recognize fully handwritten, unwitnessed wills. A handwritten, unwitnessed will is known as a holographic will. You must entirely handwrite a holographic will in order for it to be valid in Arkansas. Additionally, three witnesses must testify in court that the handwriting is really yours before your property is distributed to your loved ones.
Courts are often hesitant to honor handwritten wills. It can be difficult to verify and interpret a testator’s handwriting, which can lead to delays and will challenges. For these reasons, you should avoid handwriting your will. You can get an Arkansas will form from FindLaw in under an hour from your home computer instead.
No, your will does not have to be notarized to be legally valid under Arkansas law. But if you want to make your will is self-proving, you will need the services of a notary public. When a will is self-proving, the probate court can accept it as a valid will automatically. They do not need to call the witnesses to testify to the validity of your signature.
To make a self-proving will under Arkansas law, you need to ask your witnesses to swear to a self-proving affidavit in front of a notary public. By taking this additional step, you can save your witnesses from having to testify in probate court. It can also help to speed up the probate process.
Even if you exclude your spouse from your will, they still have the right to claim part of your estate. This is called the “elective share.” They can claim an elective share in an amount equal to what they would have received if you had died without a will (intestate). This amount is usually about a third after debts are paid off. The only requirement for this exemption is that you must have been married for at least a year.
If you and your spouse divorce after you sign your will, this will affect your spouse’s inheritance. Any will provisions that provide for your spouse’s inheritance will be voided because of the divorce. For this reason, it’s a good idea to draft a new will and reconsider your distributions if you happen to divorce.
You can distribute most of your property through your will. But there are certain exceptions in Arkansas:
- Jointly held property. If you hold your home jointly with the right of survivorship, it will pass to the joint tenant without needing to go through probate.
- Accounts with named beneficiaries. With certain retirement accounts and all life insurance policies, the proceeds go directly to your named beneficiaries. You cannot change those beneficiary designations through your will.
- Homestead exemption. In Arkansas, the homestead exemption states that a surviving spouse and children are entitled to keep the family home. To qualify for this exemption, the couple must have been married for at least a year and the surviving spouse must not have another home.
- Personal property exemption. Spouses and children have the right to up to $4,000 of exempt personal property out of the estate.
- Spouse’s elective share. If you and your spouse have been married for at least a year, they have the right to claim about a third of your estate as an elective share. This is true even if you left them out of your will.
You can change your will by either making a new will or creating an amendment (known as a “codicil“). You can use a codicil if you are making minor changes to your will. But if you have gone through a significant life event or would like to make major changes, you should create a new will. When you create a will through FindLaw, you can make changes to it for a full year after purchase.
If you want to completely revoke your Arkansas will, you can:
- Physically destroy it, tear it up, burn it, or direct someone to destroy it with the intention to revoke; or
- Make a new will that revokes the old one
When you revoke your will, you should tell your executor. If you revoked your will by creating a new one, you should give your executor a copy of the new will. Make sure to keep a copy of the new will in a safe place where loved ones can access it. This will help to ensure that your wishes are honored.
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