Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Sunday, July 14, 2019

How Do You Create a Valid Will in Arkansas?

Establishing a Will

A will is a legal document that establishes how you want your property distributed after you pass away. It also designates a personal representative who is tasked with managing your estate. A will is the most commonly utilized estate planning tool. It allows you to lay out your wishes in a clear and, when properly executed, legally binding way. The person establishing the will is referred to as the “testator.” If you do not have a will at your time of death, you are said to have died “intestate.” Without a valid will in place, the State of Arkansas intestacy laws will apply. This means that the state will rule how your estate is distributed. Personal property, real estate, financial accounts, and all of your other assets will go to whoever state law says it should go to. This is why it is important to have an estate plan and a valid will in place. Without it, default rules will apply as opposed to your wishes being honored.

How Do You Create a Valid Will in Arkansas?

If your will is invalid, your estate will be distributed as though there was never any will at all. Because of this, it is critical that you comply with Arkansas’s requires in establishing a legally valid will. First and foremost, to create a valid will you must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind. Sound mind means that you have “testamentary capacity.” Testamentary capacity means you, as the testator, must understand the purpose of executing a will. You must understand that the document you are signing is a will. You must also understand that the document you are signing will distribute your assets in the manner it prescribes after you pass away.

Your will must also be in writing. A handwritten will may be legally valid, but there are certain risks with this. A holographic will is an entirely handwritten will, signed by the testator, but there are no witnesses to the will’s execution. For a court to find a holographic will valid, three disinterested witnesses who are familiar with your handwriting must be available to testify that the handwriting of the will and the signature are yours.

For a typical will, two or more witnesses are needed. You should sign the will in the presence of these witnesses. They should also sign the will in order to verify that they witnessed the will’s execution and can attest to its validity. The witnesses should be disinterested witnesses. This means, a witness should not be one of the testator’s potential heirs or beneficiaries. If one of your witnesses is not disinterested, the will is not necessarily invalidated. However, at least two of your witnesses must be disinterested. If you do not have at least two disinterested witnesses, the interested witnesses is not allowed to inherit a portion of your estate that is of greater value that what he or should would have received pursuant to Arkansas intestacy laws.

Helping You Make an Estate Plan You Can Count On

It is not just important to create an estate plan. It is important to create an estate plan the right way and to make sure it complies with all necessary legal requirements. If you need help establishing a valid will in Arkansas, Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC is here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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