Arkansas Inheritance Laws

by Andrine Redsteer
    If an Arkansas resident doesn't leave a will, his property passes to his heirs.

    If an Arkansas resident doesn't leave a will, his property passes to his heirs.

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    In Arkansas, a resident can make a valid will if he's at least 18 years old and mentally competent. Arkansas law also requires a will to be written and attested by two witnesses. If an Arkansas resident dies without a will, his property passes to his surviving spouse and other heirs according to state law. These laws are called "laws of intestate succession." When someone dies without a will, he is said to have died "intestate."

    Dower and Curtesy

    Arkansas recognizes the marital property rights known as "dower" and "curtesy": Dower is a wife's right to a share of her husband's property and curtesy is a husband's right to a share of his wife's property. If a married person dies without a will in Arkansas, the surviving spouse automatically receives a one-third interest in real estate for his or her lifetime -- known as a life estate -- if there are no children. Regarding assets other than land, if a decedent leaves a surviving spouse and no children, the surviving spouse receives all assets if the marriage lasted for three years or more.

    Children

    In Arkansas, when a resident dies with no will, his children are entitled to part of his estate. For example, if a decedent has a surviving spouse and children, the children share a two-thirds interest in real estate equally while the surviving spouse receives a life estate in the remaining one-third. However, the children's two-thirds share in real estate is in fee simple, not a life estate. This means the children may leave their interests to someone of their choosing in a will, while the surviving spouse cannot.

    Parents

    Arkansas' intestacy laws dictate that the parents of a decedent receive a share of their child's assets. For example, if a decedent was married less than three years and has no children, his parents receive one-half of his personal property assets; parents are not entitled to a share of their children's personal property, however, if their child leaves a surviving spouse and was married for three years or more.

    Other Relatives

    Arkansas' laws of intestate succession give a decedent's siblings a share in personal property under certain circumstances. For example, if a decedent has a surviving spouse, no children and no living parents, siblings receive the portion of assets that the parents would have received. In other words, if a decedent has a surviving spouse -- to whom he was married for less than three years -- no children and no living parents, his siblings receive one-half of personal property assets.

    About the Author

    Andrine Redsteer's writing on tribal gaming has been published in "The Guardian" and she continues to write about reservation economic development. Redsteer holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Washington, a Master of Arts in Native American studies from Montana State University and a Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law.

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