How Long to File Probate After Death?

No one can prepare you for the feelings you’ll experience after the death of a loved one. Along with grief and sadness, you may feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of settling your loved one’s estate. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and guilty for taking away time from grieving to deal with the legalities of probate.

You don’t have to do the probate process by yourself though. A probate attorney can help you with many of the tasks associated with settling your loved one’s estate. This will help the process go faster and give you more time to heal.

Sometimes people do not want to deal with the formal probate process, so they may never talk to a probate lawyer or move forward with filing probate.

If the deceased is a resident of Arkansas, the time limit to probate a will is 5 years past the date of death. With non-residents, the time limit is more flexible. Any will admitted to probate in another state in a timely manner may be probated in Arkansas at any time.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of settling a deceased person’s estate. This includes identifying and inventorying the assets of the decedent’s estate, paying off any debts or taxes owed, and dividing the remaining estate property among the heirs.

The process can be very complex, especially if the estate is large or if there are disagreements among the beneficiaries. However, if there is a will in place, the probate process is traditionally much faster after obtaining approval from the court on the will’s validity.

What is the Probate Process?

Typically, you file probate once a person passes away (Just an FYI, Arkansas will let you file probate while a person is alive). You typically file a petition for probate, the death certificate, and the Will (if there is one). The probate court will appoint a personal representative.

The personal representative will collect and protect the estate assets (real property and personal property). It is their duty to follow the estate plan of the decedent throughout the estate administration.

Click for more on the Arkansas Probate Process.

Do you have to go to Probate Court?

If the estate administration is uncontested – meaning no family members or beneficiaries bring a contested legal issue, then you may never have to attend a probate hearing.

What happens to a deceased person’s estate if you do not go to Probate?

If you do not go to probate within 5 years of the decedent’s death and there was a last will and testament, then you cannot admit the will to probate, and the estate will pass according to Arkansas Intestacy Laws.

If you do not start the probate process 5 years after the person’s death and there is not a last will and testament, then the property will also pass according to Arkansas Intestacy Laws.

Do You Need a Probate Attorney Lawyer to Help?

The estate administration process can become cumbersome. The probate code can be complicated to understand at times, and each probate case is different.

Probate varies depending on several factors; which court you are in, what property is in the estate, whether there are creditors of the estate, what notices need to be filed, the value of the estate, whether there are debts, etc.

Some key benefits of working with a probate lawyer are:

  • This is routine for us: Probate is a challenging legal maze, but with the help of an experienced lawyer you can swiftly traverse its pathways and guarantee that all aspects of settling the estate are addressed.
  • More time to grieve: At this time of loss and sorrow, the last thing you need is to worry about tedious paperwork. A lawyer can help make sure all probate matters are handled efficiently so that you have more time to grieve.
  • Less stress: Probate can be a trying experience for all involved. You don’t have to go through it alone though. Enlisting the expertise of an experienced probate lawyer helps take some of that burden off your shoulders. From aiding in communication with beneficiaries who may live far away or are difficult to reach, to negotiating resolutions and defending estate laws should contention arise between them. There’s more than one way an attorney can help you make sure everything runs smoothly during probate proceedings.
  • A higher chance of success: Probate can be a complex and detailed process. A lawyer can help make sure that all the necessary steps are taken and that the process is followed correctly. This increases the chances that probate will be successful and that the estate will be settled in a timely manner.

These are a few key reasons why you should consider working with a lawyer during probate. Feel free to call 501.891.6000 for a free strategy session.