Readers of our blog will appreciate that we strongly support the position that everyone in Arkansas should have a will. It doesn’t matter if you feel you have minimal assets or an expansive, complex estate, you want to be sure the value of your estate is properly assessed and that you create a plan for distributing that value to your heirs, according to your wishes.
A will serves as a tool of clear communication. The person creating the will can use it to offer a unique expression of how important his or her heirs are to them. At times, though, there might be a desire to use the will to make clear that relations with an expected heir are not recognized. Despite such desires, it might not always be possible to see them fulfilled. It depends on the laws of the state.
For example, as a matter of law, Arkansas is a community property state. In terms of family law that tends to mean that spouses who are divorcing are entitled to a 50-50 split of their joint property. However, that can be difficult to achieve in practice and so courts have discretion to ensure that the division is made along lines that are deemed equitable.
In terms of estate planning and administration law, challenges may also exist. Assets considered marital property are equally owned by both spouses and are subject to the 50-50 split mentioned above in the event of a death. If a couple has been estranged for many years, but never finalized their divorce, the community property rules tend to apply – unless there is some legally binding documentation that states otherwise.
As the person writing the will, you have the right to distribute your share of the assets as you see fit, but not your spouse’s share.