Farmington, CT asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Arkansas

Q: My father died recently, and my stepmom is not cooperating with our wishes. No will. Who decides how property is split?

We understand and agree that she can stay in the house that my father owned until she decides to leave or passes away, and then the property goes into my brother's name. We tried to do this with her as a family, but she is not allowing us take any of our father's property- even though we are wanting sentimental items. Wouldn't we each be entitled to a third if we did this under Arkansas law? She is committed to keeping 100% of all property. It is my stepmother, my brother, and myself. Would an estate attorney be able to help my brother and I? We understand that she absolutely has rights, but we do as well and she isn't considering that.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Patrick R. Lee
Patrick R. Lee
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Licensed in Arkansas

A: Under the law in Arkansas, she would be entitled to a life estate in a third of the real property, and one third of the personal property. She does not have a right to all of it. To sort this out, you'll have to file a petition for probate, where someone will be appointed personal representative of the estate and be tasked with distributing the property. Since your stepmom is throwing a fit, it'll likely be a nasty process, especially if your father had any substantial assets.

The best thing to do is to hire an attorney to start the probate process.

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