Filing Arkansas Probate Forms: A Step-by-Step Guide

Probate can be a complex and overwhelming process, especially when you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one. However, understanding the steps involved in filing a probate petition in Arkansas can help make the process more manageable. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the necessary steps and provide valuable information on how to navigate the probate process successfully.

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Documentation

The first step in filing a probate petition in Arkansas is to gather all the necessary documentation. These forms and documents will vary depending on the complexity of the estate. Here is a general list of documents you should have:

  • Bank and financial account information

  • Certified copy of the death certificate

  • Last will and testament (if available)

  • List of assets and equities

  • Real property deeds

If your loved one filed their will with the county, you can obtain a copy of the original will from the county clerk’s office.

Step 2: Complete Your Probate Petitions

Once you have gathered all the necessary documentation, you will need to complete the four probate forms or petitions. These petitions can be downloaded from the Arkansas Judiciary website. Here are the four probate forms that you will need:

It is crucial to answer these court forms honestly, accurately, and to the best of your knowledge. If you need assistance, consider seeking professional legal advice to ensure accuracy.

Step 3: Obtain Witness Signatures on the Proof of Will

If the decedent left a will, most Wills have a Proof of Will as the last page or two fo teh document. This form requires witness signatures to validate the will. Make sure to obtain the necessary forms, wills and witness signatures to avoid any complications with your filing request.

Remember, what you put in these forms will be used in Arkansas probate court, so make sure it is correct and says what you want it to. 

Step 4: File Your Documents with the Probate Court

After completing the necessary forms and obtaining witness signatures (if applicable), it’s time to file your documents with the probate court. Remember to file in the county where the decedent resided. For instance, if your loved one passed away in Sebastian County, you or family, will need to file your petition at the Sebastian County Courts Building in Fort Smith

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Keep in mind, note that county court public offices typically operate from 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. While court clerks can provide general information about the filing process, they are not authorized to offer legal advice. Filing for probate will involve some fees, such as $25 for small estate probate (under $100,000) and $165 for general estate probate. Additional fees may apply depending on your specific circumstances.

What Happens After You File a Petition for Probate in Arkansas?

Once you have filed your petition for probate in Arkansas, several steps will follow in the probate process. It’s essential to understand these steps to navigate the probate process more effectively.

Appoint the Personal Representative

The first two items of business are getting the will admitted to probate and getting the person you want as the executor appointed.

After the personal representative is appointed, he or she must accept the appointment and the court will issue letters of administration. Once the letters are filed with the court, the executor has the legal authority over estates. That means he or she has to comply with the law and manage the estate assets for the heirs.

Newspaper Notifications

The personal representative of the estate must provide notice to the decedent’s creditors through a widely distributed local newspaper. This notification informs creditors that they have the opportunity to file an estate claim if they are owed money. Publication of notice should occur weekly for two consecutive weeks, and known creditors should be directly contacted within 30 days.

Paying Estate Claims

During the probate process, the estate must approve, pay or deny creditor claims. Approved claims will be paid from the estate’s funds, while pay or denials may lead to a hearing through the probate court.

Final Accounting

As a personal representative of assets, you have a fiduciary responsibility to the estate, which includes maintaining transparency. You must submit a final estate accounting to the probate judge for review and approval. This is true unless a waiver has been signed any and filed each person in the family and all heirs.


Once the final accounting is filed and approved, beneficiaries will receive their shares from the estate. It is crucial for the personal representative to act in good faith and distribute bequeathments according to the final court order. Failure to do so may result in heirs filing breach claims.


Filing a probate petition in Arkansas is a crucial step in the process of settling an estate. By following these steps and understanding the subsequent stages of probate, you can navigate the process with confidence and ensure a smooth distribution of assets to beneficiaries. 


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