Who decides who gets my stuff?
If you pass without a Will or other planning in place, the State has decided who gets what, when, how, and how much!
The Judge in charge of Probate will use those rules to make the Judge’s rulings.
Here is the State’s rules in a nutshell:
Most people assume that their spouse gets everything.
However, in Arkansas, the default rule is one-third. 1/3rd of your personal property like money and 1/3rd of real estate in your name.
The money is easy to split. The banks and other financial institutions will write checks in the proper amounts and issue them to your family.
Your other belongings are also split 1/3rd, 2/3rds including cars, jewelry, clothes, furniture, and more.
For the real estate, your spouse only gets a “life estate.” This means they have use of the property for life then it goes to your children. Your spouse’s and children’s name will appear on the deed.
If your spouse needs or wants to sell, then everybody appearing on the deed will have to sign at the closing.
If your spouse wants to sell, then they only get 1/3rd of the value of the life estate. The value of the life estate is based on life expectancy. The older your spouse is, the less their life estate is worth. Your children get the rest.