If you die without a valid will while residing in the State of Arkansas, you are said to have died "intestate." In order to determine who will receive your property if you die intestate, the State of Arkansas has established a number of laws (known as "intestacy laws" or "laws of intestate succession.") The primary statutes comprising these intestacy laws, or laws of intestate succession, are set forth below. For a more complete list, see Arkansas intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession statutes.
28-9-203. Intestate succession generally.
(a) Any part of the estate of a decedent not effectively disposed of by his or her will shall pass to his or her heirs as prescribed in the following sections.
(b) In this connection, the terms “heir” and “heirs”, as used in this subchapter, are intended to designate the person or persons who succeed by inheritance to the ownership of real or personal property in respect to which a person dies intestate.
(c) (1) Real estate passes immediately to the heirs upon the death of the intestate, subject to the right of the personal representative under the Probate Code to mortgage, lease, exchange, sell, or possess it for the payment of claims or legacies, the preservation or protection of the assets of the estate, the distribution of the estate, or any other purpose in the best interest of the estate.
(2) However, personalty will pass to the personal representative, if any, for distribution to the heirs unless otherwise disposed of as permitted by the probate code.
28-9-204. Per capita distribution.
Heirs will take per capita in the following circumstances:
(1) (A) If all members of the class who inherit real or personal property from an intestate are related to the intestate in equal degree, they will inherit the intestate's estate in equal shares and will be said to take per capita.
(B) For illustration:
(i) If the intestate leaves no heirs except children, the children will take per capita and in equal shares;
(ii) If the intestate leaves no heirs except grandchildren, all the grandchildren will take per capita and in equal shares; and
(iii) If the inheriting class consists solely of great-grandchildren, or any more remote descendants of the intestate who are all related to the intestate in the same degree, they will take per capita.
(C) The same rule applies to the inheritance by collateral heirs of the intestate as when, for illustration, the inheriting class consists entirely of brothers and sisters, or consists solely of nieces and nephews who are descendants of deceased brothers and sisters, or consists of any other collateral relatives of the intestate who are related to the intestate in equal degree.
(D) Likewise, when the inheriting class consists of uncles, aunts, and grandparents or great-uncles, great-aunts, and great-grandparents who, under § 28-9-214, may constitute an inheriting class even though they represent different generations, all members of such a class who survive the intestate will take per capita and share equally; and
(2) If the members of the inheriting class are related to the intestate in unequal degree, those in the nearer degree will take per capita or in their own right, and those in the more remote degree will take per stirpes or through representation as provided in § 28-9-205.
28-9-205. Per stirpes distribution.
(a) (1) Heirs will take “per stirpes” if the intestate is predeceased by one (1) or more persons who would have been entitled to inherit from the intestate had such a person survived the intestate.
(2) The intestate's estate shall be divided into as many equal shares as there are:
(A) Surviving heirs in the nearest degree of kinship to the intestate; and
(B) Persons, hereinafter called “predeceased persons”, in the same degree of kinship as the heirs mentioned in subdivision (a)(2)(A) of this section, who predeceased the intestate leaving descendants who survived the intestate.
(3) Each surviving heir in the nearest degree taking per capita shall receive one (1) share and the descendants of each predeceased person taking per stirpes shall collectively receive one (1) share.
(b) (1) If the descendants of a predeceased person are all related to the predeceased person in the same degree, they will take in equal parts the share accruing to them collectively.
(2) However, if such descendants are related to the predeceased person in unequal degree, the share accruing to them collectively shall pass per capita to those in the nearer degree and per stirpes to those in the more remote degree according to the formula set out in subdivision (a)(3) of this section.
(3) If the descendants of a predeceased person are found in multiple generations, the above formula for division shall be applied in respect to the descendants in each generation.
(c) (1) The provisions of this section shall be applied to both real and personal property and to both lineal and collateral heirs.
(2) However, if under § 28-9-214, the inheriting class consists of grandparents and uncles and aunts, or of great-grandparents and great-uncles and great-aunts, the per stirpes rule shall apply when an uncle or aunt, or great-uncle or great-aunt, as the case may be, shall predecease the intestate, leaving descendants. However, it shall not be applied in respect to a grandparent or great-grandparent of the intestate who predeceased the intestate. In this event the grandparent or great-grandparent shall not be counted in determining the number of shares passing to the members of the inheriting class or those taking through them by representation.
28-9-206. Interests transmissible by inheritance.
(a) Heirs may inherit every right, title, and interest not terminated by the intestate's death in real or personal property owned by an intestate at the time of the intestate's death and not disposed of by will.
(b) The rights of heirs will be subject to:
(1) The dower or curtesy of the intestate's surviving spouse;
(2) The homestead rights of the surviving spouse and children of the intestate, including the quarantine rights of the surviving spouse;
(3) All statutory rights and allowances to the surviving spouse and minor children;
(4) Any rights of a surviving spouse in respect to income tax refunds made pursuant to a joint federal income tax return; and
(5) An administration of the estate, if any.
(c) The portion of the intestate's estate which may pass by inheritance, after giving effect to subsection (b) of this section and to any partial testamentary disposition, is hereinafter sometimes called the “heritable estate” of the intestate.
(d) In this connection it is declared that subject to the conditions set out above, the intestate's entire right and title in respect to any and all reversionary and remainder interests, rights of reentry or forfeiture for condition broken, executory interests, and possibilities of reverter, whether any of such interests are vested or contingent, shall be transmissible by inheritance and will pass to the intestate's heirs determined as of the time of the intestate's death.
(e) An intestate may transmit his or her title to real or personal property by inheritance even though:
(1) The intestate is not in actual or constructive possession thereof; and
(2) There may be adverse possession thereof.
28-9-207. Heirs as tenants in common.
When real or personal property is transmitted by inheritance to two (2) or more persons, they will take the same as tenants in common. However, when personal property is distributed in separate units by a personal representative, each distributee will hold his or her distributed part in severalty.
28-9-208. Male not preferred over female.
The common law principle that in the matter of inheritance the male will be preferred over the female shall constitute no part of the Arkansas law of inheritance.
28-9-209. Legitimacy of child — Effect.
(a) (1) If the parents of a child have lived together as man and wife and, before the birth of their child, have participated in a marriage ceremony in apparent compliance with the law of the state where the marriage ceremony was performed, though the attempted marriage is void, their child is deemed to be the legitimate child of both parents for all purposes of intestate succession.
(2) A child born or conceived during a marriage is presumed to be the legitimate child of both spouses for the same purposes.
(b) If a man has a child or children by a woman, and afterward intermarries with her and recognizes the child or children to be his, the child or children shall be deemed and considered legitimate.
(c) Any child conceived following artificial insemination of a married woman with the consent of her husband shall be treated as their child for all purposes of intestate succession. Consent of the husband is presumed unless the contrary is shown by clear and convincing evidence.
(d) An illegitimate child or his or her descendants may inherit real or personal property in the same manner as a legitimate child from the child's mother or her blood kindred. The child may inherit real or personal property from his or her father or from his or her father's blood kindred, provided that at least one (1) of the following conditions is satisfied and an action is commenced or claim asserted against the estate of the father in a court of competent jurisdiction within one hundred eighty (180) days of the death of the father:
(1) A court of competent jurisdiction has established the paternity of the child or has determined the legitimacy of the child pursuant to subsection (a), (b), or (c) of this section;
(2) The man has made a written acknowledgment that he is the father of the child;
(3) The man's name appears with his written consent on the birth certificate as the father of the child;
(4) The mother and father intermarry prior to the birth of the child;
(5) The mother and putative father attempted to marry each other prior to the birth of the child by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid; or
(6) The putative father is obligated to support the child under a written voluntary promise or by court order.
(e) Property of an illegitimate person passes in accordance with the usual rules of intestate succession to his or her mother and his or her kindred of her blood and to his or her father and his or her kindred of his or her father's blood, provided that paternity has been established in accordance with subsection (d) of this section.
(f) Nothing contained in this section shall extend the time within which a right of inheritance or a right to a succession may be asserted beyond the time provided by law relating to distribution and closing of decedents' estates or to the determination of heirship, or otherwise.
28-9-210. Posthumous heirs.
(a) Posthumous descendants of the intestate conceived before his or her death but born thereafter shall inherit in the same manner as if born in the lifetime of the intestate.
(b) However, no right of inheritance shall accrue to any person other than a lineal descendant of the intestate, unless such a person has been born at the time of the intestate's death.
(a) No person is disqualified to inherit, or transmit by inheritance, real or personal property because he or she is or has been an alien.
(b) An alien may inherit, or transmit by inheritance, as freely as a citizen of this state, subject to the same laws of intestate succession which are applicable to citizens of this state.
(c) The term “alien” as used in this section refers to a person who is not a citizen of the United States.
28-9-212. Computing degrees of consanguinity.
(a) (1) In computing the degrees of relationship between any two (2) kinsmen who are not related in a direct line of ascent or descent, it is proper to start with the common ancestor of the kinsmen and count downwards. In whatever degree the kinsmen or the more remote of them is distant from the common ancestor, that is the degree in which they are related to each other.
(2) Thus two (2) or more children of a common parent are related to each other in the first degree, because from the common parent to each of the children is counted only one (1) degree.
(3) But a person and his or her nephew are related in the second degree, for the nephew is two (2) degrees removed from his or her grandparent who is the common ancestor.
(4) A person and his or her second cousin are related in the third degree, for they are both three (3) degrees removed from the great-grandparent who is their common ancestor.
(b) In computing the degrees of relationship between any two (2) kinsmen related in a direct line of ascent or descent, the degree of relationship shall be determined by starting with one (1) of the persons and counting up or down to the other. Thus, a person and his or her:
(1) Parent or child are related in the first degree;
(2) Grandparent or grandchild are related in the second degree; and
(3) Great-grandparent or great-grandchild are related in the third degree.
28-9-213. Kinsmen of the half blood.
An intestate's kinsmen of the half blood will inherit the intestate's real or personal property to the same extent as if they were the intestate's kinsmen of the whole blood.
28-9-214. Tables of descents.
The heritable estate of an intestate as defined in § 28-9-206 shall pass as follows upon the intestate's death:
(1) First, to the children of the intestate and the descendants of each child of the intestate who may have predeceased the intestate. The children and descendants will take per capita or per stirpes according to §§ 28-9-204 and 28-9-205;
(2) Second, if the intestate is survived by no descendant, to the intestate's surviving spouse unless the intestate and the surviving spouse had been continuously married less than three (3) years next preceding the death of the intestate, in which event the surviving spouse will take merely fifty percent (50%) of the intestate's heritable estate;
(3) Third, if the intestate is survived by no descendant or spouse, to the intestate's surviving parents, sharing equally, or to the sole surviving parent if only one (1) of them shall be living;
(4) Fourth, if the intestate is survived by no descendant but is survived by a spouse to whom the intestate has been continuously married less than three (3) years next preceding the death of the intestate, the entire portion of his or her heritable estate which does not pass to the surviving spouse under subdivision (2) of this section shall pass to the intestate's surviving parents, sharing equally, or to the sole surviving parent if only one (1) of them shall be living;
(5) Fifth, if the intestate is survived by no descendant or parent, then all of his or her heritable estate which under subdivisions (3) and (4) of this section would have vested in the intestate's surviving parent or parents will pass to the intestate's brothers and sisters and the descendants of any brothers and sisters of the intestate who may have predeceased the intestate, such brothers, sisters, and descendants taking per capita or per stirpes according to §§ 28-9-204 and 28-9-205;
(6) Sixth, if the intestate is survived by no descendant, then in respect to such portion of his or her heritable estate as does not pass under subdivisions (2)-(5) of this section, the inheriting class will be the surviving grandparents, uncles, and aunts of the intestate. In this situation, each surviving grandparent shall take the same share as each surviving uncle and aunt, and no distinction shall be made between the paternal and maternal sides. In other words, a maternal grandparent, uncle, or aunt shall take the same share as a paternal grandparent, uncle, or aunt and vice versa. If any uncle or aunt of the intestate shall predecease the intestate, the descendants of the deceased uncle or aunt will take, per capita or per stirpes according to §§ 28-9-204 and 28-9-205, the share the decedent would have taken if he or she had survived the intestate;
(7) Seventh, if the intestate is survived by no descendant, then in respect to the portion of his or her estate as does not pass under subdivisions (2)-(6) of this section, the inheriting class will be the surviving great-grandparents and great-uncles and great-aunts of the intestate. In this situation, each surviving great-grandparent shall take the same share as each surviving great-uncle and great-aunt, and no distinction shall be made between the paternal and maternal sides. In other words, a maternal great-grandparent, great-uncle, or great-aunt shall take the same share as a paternal great-grandparent, great-uncle, or great-aunt and vice versa. If any great-uncle or great-aunt shall predecease the intestate, the descendants of the decedent will take, per capita or per stirpes according to §§ 28-9-204 and 28-9-205, the share the decedent would have taken if he or she had survived the intestate; and
(8) Eighth, if heirs capable of inheriting the entire heritable estate cannot be found within the inheriting classes prescribed in subdivisions (1)-(7) of this section, the real and personal property of the intestate, or the portion not passing under those subdivisions, shall pass according to § 28-9-215, devolution when all or some portion of a heritable estate does not pass under this section.
[Reference - Arkansas' Intestacy laws].