The Arkansas small estate process allows heirs (or Will beneficiaries) of estates worth less than $100,000 to obtain property through a shortened probate proceeding. Administering a small estate will generally be cheaper and require less time than a typical probate proceeding. Per Arkansas law, a party entitled to property from an estate can claim that property by filing an affidavit for collection of small estate with the circuit clerk. The affidavit must be filed in the county where the deceased last lived. There is a $25 filing fee and a $5 fee for each certified copy of the affidavit.
Affidavit for Collection of Small Estate Requirements
In order for the affidavit for collection of small estate to be valid, certain requirements must be met. First, there cannot be a pending probate proceeding for the decedent’s estate. If a full probate for the estate is filed, the affidavit will be invalid. Second, before the affidavit is filed, forty-five (45) days must have passed since the death of the decedent. Third, the value of the decedent’s entire estate (including real estate and personal property) must be less than $100,000. Fourth, there must be no unpaid claims against the decedent’s estate. In other words, if the decedent died owing money to creditors or to the state, then an affidavit cannot be filed until those debts are paid. Fifth, the affidavit must provide an itemized description and valuation of all the decedent’s property. It should also state the name and address of persons in possession of the property. Sixth, the affidavit must provide the names, addresses, and relationship to the decedent of all persons entitled to receive the property. Finally, the affidavit must be signed by an heir or interested person and notarized.
When the affidavit is filed, the clerk will sign and stamp it. A copy of the signed and stamped affidavit can then be presented to banks or others holding the decedent’s property. The property is then supposed to be turned over to the heirs (or beneficiaries) listed in the affidavit.
Arkansas Notice Requirements
In addition to filing the affidavit there are certain notice requirements that must be met if the decedent owned real estate . Once the affidavit is filed, a notice of must be published within thirty (30) days. The notice must state: (1) that the decedent has died; (2) where and when the affidavit was filed; (3) that claims against the estate must be brought within three months; and (4) the name and address of the person who filed the affidavit. Publishing of the notice is accomplished by running an advertisement in the local newspaper. The cost of publication varies depending on the newspaper. It is the responsibility of the heirs to run the newspaper ad and pay for it.
Transferring Real Estate in a Small Estate
If the decedent owned real estate at the time of his/her death, a deed will need to be prepared to transfer the property to the heirs (beneficiaries). The deed cannot be filed with the real estate office until three months has passed after the notice was first published.
The affidavit for collection of small estate process is designed to be a relatively fast and low cost way for heirs and beneficiaries of small estates to obtain property from a lost loved one. Oftentimes persons can handle the process on their own without hiring an attorney. However, it is important to remember that all of the requirements of the small estate process must be met. A failure to do so, can cause problems and trouble. Also, intentionally failing to include information on the affidavit (such as names of heirs or a full list of property) can result in the filer facing civil liability. An affidavit for collection of small estate form can be found at the Arkansas Judiciary’s website (it is Form 23).
If you need assistance with the Arkansas small estate process or have other probate or estate planning needs, feel free to give us a call at (501) 960-6060.