Q: My aunt passed away in Jonesboro recently. Will her will be putlic record? If so, where?
A: In Arkansas, if a probate is filed then all documents filed in the probate, including a Will, will be publicly available from the county clerk. By law if there are over $100,000 in assets in a probate estate then a probate must be filed. If the probate estate is smaller then a probate may not be required but may still be necessary in order to validate a Will and/or distribute certain types of assets.
Assets which typically are in the probate estate and may require probate to transfer include: financial accounts with no beneficiary or payable/transfer-on-death designation, vehicles titled in the decedent name, or real property without a survivorship rights.
Assets which typically are not in the probate estate, and therefore transfer outside of probate include: life insurance, and retirements accounts with beneficiary designations, financial accounts with payable/transfer-on-death designations, assets that are transferred to a revocable living trust, assets which are held jointly with survivorship, such as marital property, and joint financial accounts.
If you may be entitled to a distribution from your aunt's estate, or if your aunt owed you money at her death then you may have standing to file a probate yourself. Contested probates can be very expensive so you should consult an Arkansas attorney knowledgeable in probate law before taking any action.
This is a general answer, not legal advice, and may not apply to your specific situation.
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