What is a will?
Every person who is eighteen years of age or older needs a last will and testament, so that they have the final say in the distribution of their property after their death, rather than leaving such vital decisions to the state. Your will is the basis of an estate plan and is often the most important document in your estate plan. It is the document that sets forth your wishes regarding the disposition of your property after your death, whether it be through a specific bequest, a testamentary trust, or otherwise. It is also an instrument in which you can nominate persons to take care of your minor children if you and your spouse or partner should die, to serve as the personal representative (executor) of your estate, and to serve as trustee of any trusts that might be created through your estate plan. Your will may be very simple and straightforward, or may require more complicated estate planning for tax purposes, depending on the size of your estate and the nature of your assets. Discussing your wishes regarding your property with an attorney is an important step in ensuring that your wishes are followed, while simultaneously protecting your heirs from unnecessary tax consequences.
If you have no will, you are considered to have died intestate, and your property will pass as mandated by the Arkansas probate code or the probate laws of the state in which you reside at the time of your death. The preferences that you might have given to your loved ones orally will not be considered. If you have young children, then the state may have more say in who will take care of them in the event you and your spouse have died.