Arkansas Last Will & Testament Information

By Ruth Sturdy

Whether you choose to leave your assets to a charitable or organisation, or your loved ones; family, friends, spouse, children or pets, it is important that you create a Last Will & Testament according to Arkansas law. 

You can use a will for various things, but the most important is to express how assets such as your vehicles, property, business, and jewelry for example should be divided upon death. 

An Arkansas Last Will & Testament includes the following requirements:

  • The testator must be eighteen years old or older.  
  • They must also be of ‘sound mind’.​
  • The Will must be signed or signed by mark by the testator or by someone else in their name (provided it is done under the testator’s direction and in their presence).​
  • The signing of the Will requires at least two witnesses in order to make it valid. ​
  • Another requirement to make the Will valid is that it must be in written format.​
  • An Arkansas resident may bequeath their assets to any beneficiaries.

A last will and testament in Arkansas also allows you to name legal guardians of your children.

In Arkansas, your witnesses to your will must be disinterested. This means that you must have not bequeathed anything to them in the will. Note that if an interested witness signs it, they could lose the gifts you granted them. 

You do not have to notarize your will in order for it to be legal, however, you can make it self-proving in order to avoid probate and this requires going to a notary to do so. A self-proving will does not need to be proved in court and does not require contacting the witnesses who signed it, speeding up the process. In order to self-prove a will document, you must go to a notary with your witnesses and create a sworn affidavit proving your identities and that each of you knew you were signing it. 

Nuncupative (oral) wills are not recognized in Arkansas, but a holographic will is if it meets the following requirements:

  • The body and signature are all in the handwriting of the testator
  • There is evidence of three disinterested witnesses to prove the handwriting

Take note that handwritten wills do not come without risk. If you have one, the court will need to analyse it after your death in order to confirm its validity and authenticity. In order to do this, there will need to be three disinterested witnesses who are familiar with your handwriting to testify the signature and writing are authentic. After this is proved, the will must be submitting through probate just like a normal will. 

If a resident dies without a will in Arkansas, their children are able to obtain a portion of the estate. If the deceased has children and a surviving spouse, the children get 2/3 in real estate and the spouse gets the remaining 1/3. However, the children’s share is in ‘fee simple’, meaning they are able to bequeath their portion to someone of their choice in a will. The spouse is unable to do so. 

In the event that someone dies intestate, Arkansas laws state that their parents receive a share of their child’s possessions. If the deceased was married for a period of less than three years and there are no children involved, their parents receive half of their personal property. However, if there is a surviving spouse and they were married for three years or longer, and if there is a child involved, parents are not entitled to any of the assets.

There are a few ways you can amend your will if you so choose – by creating a brand new will or adding a codicil to your current one. If you decide to write a new one, you must be sure to revoke the old will. This can be done by adding a section in the new will saying you revoke the previous one and also destroying any versions of them to avoid confusion in the future. If you want to keep your current will but wish to add something on, you can do so using a codicil. This is a document that allows you to make changes to an old will or add a new condition. You should seek advice from an attorney to help decide whether the best option for you is to create a new will or add a codicil.

Click here if you have any questions about creating a last will in Arkansas.

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