In Arkansas, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone determines what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you actually want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for actually implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these objectives.
In addition to decisions regarding the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For instance, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your opinion on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such decisions for you, if you are unable.
A qualified estate planner in Arkansas may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Furthermore, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in Arkansas
Estate plans in Arkansas almost always have these elements:
Will: A will permits you to control what is done with your property after your death. You can generally give your property to whoever you want, and make these gifts conditional. However, a will can only control another person's behavior insofar as placing conditions on gifts ("you don't get this money unless you spend the night in a haunted house"). The beneficiary doesn't HAVE to do anything if they don't want to, and are willing to surrender the money or property you left them.
Power of Attorney: This is an arrangement that gives another person the power to make certain decisions, usually related to finances and medical care, on your behalf, if you become incapacitated or disabled, and therefore unable to make or express your own decisions. You can choose who you give this authority to. For obvious reasons, it should be somebody you trust.
Funeral Arrangements: Your wishes on this matter should be made clear to whoever is in a position to implement them early on in the estate planning procedure, and should not be included in a will. Because a will is generally read days or weeks after the person dies, it may be too late by then to carry your wishes out.
Do I Need an Arkansas Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning is very important (if you care about what happens to your family after your death), and can involve some pretty difficult decisions. It should be clear, then, that a reputable Arkansas estate planning attorney will likely be worth the cost, because they can give your wishes the best possible chance of taking effect.
Interesting Facts About Arkansas
Arkansas nicknamed "The Natural State", in reference to its many natural geographic features. It is sometimes known by its former nickname of "the Land of Opportunity". Arkansas has a population of nearly 3 million people, and the state capital city is Little Rock. Some counties in Arkansas have two county seats.
Legal claims in Arkansas are processed through the state's judicial branch. This consists of the Arkansas Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Circuit Courts. There are also District Courts and City Courts, which do not conduct any jury trials. Thus, many legal claims are processed at the Circuit Court level. The Arkansas Supreme Court building also houses a library and is noted for its beautiful rotunda layout.
One of the most famous U.S. Supreme Court cases, United States v. Miller, originated in Arkansas. The Miller case involved the 2nd Amendment, specifically with regards to registration of firearms for tax purposes. The Miller decision is a key case in America's ongoing gun control debate, and is often cited by both sides of the debate.
Lawyers in Arkansas provide legal advice, assistance with legal forms, and representation in court. Arkansas laws are very specific to the region, and Arkansas lawyers understand how to interpret the laws for you. An experienced Arkansas attorney can help you through the legal process from beginning to end.