If you are named in a will as the executor of a deceased person's estate in Arkansas, chances are you are a family member of the deceased or someone with a close association. If a will does not name an executor, the Arkansas probate court usually appoints a beneficiary to serve in the position. The executor, also known as the personal representative, usually works closely with a probate attorney licensed to practice in Arkansas. The relationship between the attorney and personal representative is important, as Arkansas law holds the personal representative personally liable if estate proceeds and property are not properly maintained.
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In Arkansas, anyone assuming the duties of personal representative must post a bond. The court calculates the amount based on the estimated total value of the estate. A will can waive the requirement of a bond for the personal representative it names, but the court can still require one if it feels it's necessary.
Title and Responsibility to Property
Once appointed, the personal representative must account for all estate property, and anything in the hands of someone else must be retrieved. Cash should be deposited in a bank account the personal representative opens specifically for the probate proceeding. Responsibility for all real estate also goes to the executor. All insurance must be kept up to date, all taxes paid and any rents produced by the property collected and added to the assets of the estate. All real estate, and personal property of any value, must be appraised.
Arkansas probate courts require an inventory of all property within 60 days of becoming an estate's personal representative. The inventory notes the description and appraised fair market value of each property item as of the date of the deceased's death. The inventory documents the contents of the estate, along with the condition and value of each item, to ensure all property is preserved in that condition for the beneficiaries until the end of probate.
The personal representative must ensure that the estate's debts are paid. He must publish a notice in a local newspaper stating the estate is in probate and that anyone to whom the estate owes money has three months to file a claim. Arkansas requires the notice to run once per week for two consecutive weeks. The personal representative must also try to identify creditors of the estate and notify them directly of the deadline for filing claims. Arkansas requires the personal representative to approve each claim. Otherwise, a hearing must be held to determine the claim's legitimacy.
The personal representative must file a financial accounting with the Arkansas probate court when he is ready to disburse assets and close probate, or if the personal representative resigns. The accounting lists all of the estate's property and its value, along with the estate's income, expenses and payment of creditor claims. The accounting also includes a record of time spent, and expenses incurred, by the personal representative in performing his duties.
Personal Representative Fees
The personal representative of an Arkansas estate is entitled to payment for all the time he invests in seeing the estate through probate. The rate is set by the Arkansas legislature and is based on the size of the estate and time devoted to working on estate matters during the probate process. This rate changes periodically. The personal representative needs to check the Arkansas Statutes or consult an Arkansas probate attorney for the current rates and calculations.