Having an Arkansas Small Estate Affidavit helps people inherit property. It also helps you avoid a full probate action. Times are difficult when a loved one dies, this helps make it simpler if you qualify.
Small Estate Administration
Small Estate laws were enacted in Arkansas in order to allow heirs to receive the property that the deceased wanted them to have without the long process of probate. In Arkansas, you may be able to avoid the probate process or at least shorten the process if certain conditions are met. These conditions include:
- The total value of the entire estate is less than $100,000 and that claims (debts or judgments) against the estate have been paid. There are other exclusions and exemptions from this amount, such as the homestead exemption and spouse and child allowances.
- Forty-five (45) days must have passed since the death before filing the affidavit
- There is not a personal representative of the estate already appointed or a petition for an appointment pending.
How do I use the Small Estate laws?
You must file an Affidavit for Collection of Small Estate with the probate clerk of the circuit court in the county where the deceased last lived. The affidavit can be filed by one or more of the people receiving proceeds from the estate (called distributees). The affidavit must state, among other things, that the conditions in the previous section are true.
It will also need to state the persons entitled to inherit, the date of the decedent’s death, an itemized description of the property (including real property), the persons possessing the property, and everything else listed in Ark. Code Ann. 28-41-101.
Here is a complete list of what needs to go into an Arkansas Small Estate Affidavit:
- That there are no unpaid claims or demands against the decedent or his or her estate, that the Department of Human Services furnished no federal or state benefits to the decedent, or, that if such benefits have been furnished, the department has been reimbursed in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations;
- An itemized description and valuation of the personal property and a legal description and valuation of any real property of the decedent, including the homestead;
- The names and addresses of persons having possession of the personal property and the names and addresses of any persons possessing or residing on any real property of the decedent; and
- The names, addresses, and relationship to the decedent of the persons entitled to and who will receive the property; and
You probably will need to request the clerk provide certified copies. Some banks and other institutions will require an affidavit certified before they accept it.
What happens after filing the affidavit?
After you file the affidavit with the probate clerk, the clerk will sign the affidavit and place her seal on it. You can then provide a copy of the affidavit to financial institutions or other persons or entities that have the property of the deceased.
They should then release the property or proceeds to you or whoever is named in the affidavit. You may also need additional paperwork, depending on what type of property it is and who has possession of it.
It’s important to remember that if any false information was provided in the affidavit, then you may be held liable for damages
Is there a Personal Representative in a Small Estate?
In a small estate, the distributees may act as personal representatives of the deceased. This means that they can manage and dispense with the assets in accordance with Arkansas Small Estate Law. They are still responsible for paying all claims against the estate before distributing assets to heirs or beneficiaries.
Do I have to Publish in the Newspaper with a Small Estate?
Under Arkansas law, you only have to file in the newspaper if there is real estate involved in the small estate affidavit. Once you run the publication you have to file proof of publication with the probate court. Once 3 months have passed from the date of first publication, creditors will be forever-barred from making claims against the estate.
If there is only personal property, then you do not have to run a publication in the newspaper.
How much does an estate have to be worth to go to probate in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, an estate with property valued at more than $100,000 must go through the probate process. If it is worse less than $100,000 then can go through the small estate process so long as you meet all the requirements above.
Can you sue someone for taking personal property with a Small Estate Affidavit?
Yes, if someone takes possession of the personal property using an affidavit when they are not legally entitled to it, then the distributees can file a civil lawsuit against them for damages.
Also, if you list false information in the affidavit and then distribute or take property incorrectly, you can be held liable.