Opinions and Legal Insights

Who Are Next of Kin In Arkansas?

Arkansas next of kin for intestate inheritance purposes (when someone dies without a will) are:

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Children
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings

 

Although the term “next of kin” in Arkansas is construed to mean the closest blood relatives, for purposes of intestate inheritance the surviving spouse is included.

What Next Of Kin Inherit In Arkansas?

Under Arkansas’ intestate succession laws, the next of kin heirs that are in line to inherit from an intestate decedent’s estate depend on the other people that survived the decedent.

The amount of a surviving spouse’s intestate inheritance depends on the length of the marriage.

Survivors of the Decedent

Share of Intestate Estate

Spouse of at least three years, no children

–          Entire estate to spouse

Spouse of less than three years, no children

–          ½ of estate to spouse

–          ½ of estate to parents, siblings, or other relatives

Spouse and children

–          Life estate in 1/3 of real property to spouse

–          1/3 of personal property to spouse

–          2/3 of personal property to children

–          Real property to children subject to spouse’s life estate

Children (or descendants of predeceased child), no spouse

–          Entire estate to children or descendants

Parents, no children or spouse

–          Entire estate to parents

Siblings, no children, spouse, or parents

–          Entire estate to siblings

Grandparents, uncles and aunts, no spouse, children, parents, siblings

–          Surviving class shares estate equally

Great-grandparents, great-uncles and great-aunts, no other survivors

–          Surviving class shares estate equally

No next of kin heirs to heritable estate or portion thereof

–          First to surviving spouse even though married less than three years

–          Second to heirs of intestate’s deceased spouse (if prior marriage that ended in death)

–          Third, to county where decedent resided at death

The Arkansas intestate inheritance rules can be found at AR Code § 28-9-214 and AR Code § 28-9-215.

What Do Next of Kin Heirs Inherit Under Arkansas Law?

The Arkansas laws of intestate succession only apply when a decedent dies intestate (without a will), and only apply to assets that are included in a decedent’s probate estate.

Therefore, even if a decedent dies without a will, they might also die with only non-probate assets.  Non-probate assets include bank accounts with pay-on-death beneficiaries, revocable trust assets, and life insurance policies.   All of these assets go to the named pay-on-death beneficiaries and pass outside of probate.  See the Probate and Non-Probate Assets Chart

When Does The State Of Arkansas Inherit Property?

The State of Arkansas will only inherit an intestate decedent’s property if there are absolutely no next of kin heirs, and no heirs of a decedent’s prior spouse (if the prior marriage ended in death, not divorce).

It is very rare for property to escheat to the state of Arkansas.  If a decedent’s property ends up going to the state of Arkansas because there are absolutely no next of kin, it will go to the county where the decedent resided at death.

Survivorship Requirement Under Arkansas Law

For a next of kin intestate heir to be entitled to inherit under Arkansas law, they must survive the decedent by five days.  If a next of kin does not survive the decedent by five days, they are considered to have predeceased the decedent and do not inherit from the intestate estate.

An Arkansas probate lawyer can help you determine your rights as next of kin.