Q: My friend's mother died without a will. She is an only child. What does she need to do to have the deed put in her name?
My friend is an adult. Her mother was a widow, and they lived together. As for the house, it's worth less than $75,000.
A: Generally, when there is no Will, you must go through some sort of probate administration whereby the heirs of the deceased are judicially determined and a personal representative is appointed. However, several states have a process available to assist those smaller estates that may not need "regular" administration. Texas, for example, has a Small Estate Affidavit that is sometimes available for low-value estates and can be handy when the only estate asset is the homestead. Arkansas' system of "Summary Administration" bears passing resemblance to the Texas Small Estate Affidavit, though the applicability and practicality of Summary Administration will depend on all facts surrounding the estate. Have your friend talk with an Arkansas probate attorney to discuss the viability of Summary Administration or to see what other probate or probate alternatives may be available to ensure title is transferred properly.
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