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Our law firm provides general
law services, including:

Estate Planning
     Wills, Trusts, Probate,
     Health Care Proxies,
     Powers of Attorney, Living Wills,
     Tax and Probate Avoidance

Elder Law
     Guardianships, Conservatorships,
     Medicare, Medicaid and
     Assisted Living

Adoption
     Adoptions for Single Parents, Parents,
     Blended Families, Grandparents,
     New Babies, DHS - Department of
     Human Services

Family Law
     Domestic Relations, Divorce
Business and Corporate Law
     Incorporating, Limited Liability
     Company, and Debt Collection

Real Estate Law
     Contracts, Deeds, Notes, Mortgages
Personal Injury

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Legal Q&A - (Expand All)
Click a category below to display related questions. Click a question to display an answer.
Business Law
What is a Sole Proprietorship?
A sole proprietorship is a business entity where an individual is the sole person in charge. That individual is responsible for everything.
What is a Partnership?
A partnership is an association of individuals formed by two or more persons for the purpose of transacting business together.
In a partnership, the owners are all personally liable for any legal actions and debts the partnership may face.
In a partnership, partners share equally in both responsibility and liability.
What is an LLC?
An LLC is a limited liability company. It is similar to a sole proprietorship in that it has one owner. It is similar to a corporation in that it provides limited liability to its owner.
As stated in its name, the main function of the limited liability company is to limit the liability of the owner.
What is an LLP?
An LLP is a limited liability partnership. It is similar to a partnership in that it is an association of individuals formed by two or more persons for the purpose of transacting business together.
It is similar to a corporation in that it provides limited liability to its members.
What is a Corporation?
 A corporation is a legal entity having its own privileges and liabilities distinct from those of its members. 
An important feature of a corporation is limited liability. 
If a corporation fails, shareholders normally only stand to lose their investment, and employees will lose their jobs, but neither will be further liable for debts that remain owing to the corporation’s creditors. 
The corporation has shareholders (those who own the stock in the corporation), a board of directors, and officers (president and secretary/treasurer). 
An individual can form a corporation or a group of individuals can form a corporation.
 
What is an S Corporation?
An S corporation is a corporation with shareholders, officers and a board of directors who have joined together to transact business.
The main difference between an S corporation and an ordinary corporation is that the S corporation is not a taxpaying entity. The income from the S corporation flows through to the individual owners (shareholders), and the individual owners are responsible for reporting on their individual income tax returns the income made by the S corporation.
Child Custody
If parental rights are terminated, are grandparents'?
If parental rights to a child are terminated, are the rights of the grandparents also terminated?

In most cases, they are. Grandparents derive their rights to their grandchildren from the parent. Therefore, once the rights of the parents are cut off, so go the rights of the grandparents. (Arkansas Code Annotated 9-9-223)

Can I terminate parental rights for non-support?
If a non-custodial parent has not paid child support in one year, can I terminate his rights to our child?

If the non-custodial parent has failed to pay child support and/or visit the child for at least one year, the custodial parent may be able to terminate his rights to the child. The custodial parent must notify the non-custodial parent that they intend to terminate parental rights. The non-custodial parent has three months to pay a substantial amount of past due payments owed and to establish a relationship with the child. If they do not do this, the court may terminate if it finds that it is in the best interest of the child. (Arkansas Code Annotated 9-9-220)

Can parents share "joint custody"?
Can both parents share "joint custody" of the children?

Yes. If both parents agree to joint custody, it is now favored under recent changes in Arkansas law. Joint custody can also now be ordered by the judge in contested cases.

Must the noncustodial parent pay child support?
Is the parent who does not receive custody of the childen required to pay child support?

Yes. In those cases where one parent has primary custody, the other parent will be required to pay child support. In joint custodial arrangements, one parent may be required to assist the other if that parent's earnings greatly exceed the other's. Child support is determined by a chart found in the Arkansas Code and is usually followed strictly

Can parents set the visitation schedule?
Can parents set their own visitation schedule, or is that a matter that the judge decides?

If the parents can agree, the judge will normally allow the agreement. However, if the matter is contested, the judge will review all the evidence and set a schedule which he feels is in the best interest of the minor children.

Divorce
When can I stop paying alimony?
Unless otherwise ordered by the court, payment of alimony automatically ceases when the following occurs:
a.  The person receiving alimony remarries, or
b.  The person receiving alimony establishes a relationship that produces a child and obtains a court order directing another person to pay support, or
c.  The person receiving alimony establishes a relationship that produces a child that results in a court order directing that person to provide support to another person unrelated to him or her.
Ark. Code Ann. 9-12-312 (a) (b) (c).

How are support payments treated on my income taxes?
The person paying alimony can claim the payments as a deduction on Federal Income Tax returns. The person receiving the alimony payments must include the payments as income.
Only one parent may claim a child as a tax exemption. This is normally the person who provides more than half of the money necessary to support the child. Federal law gives the custodial parent the deduction, unless the court rules otherwise or the property settlement agreement designates otherwise.

Can support be avoided by bankruptcy?
No. The payment of alimony or child support cannot be avoided by a Declaration of Bankruptcy.
Can a wife return to her previous name after a divorce?
Yes.

Can child support or alimony be changed after divorce?
Yes. The Court has the power to change either one based on a showing of a change of circumstances. These include such things as an increase or decrease in income or unexpectedly high medical expenses.

How long does it take to get a divorce?
Where no part of the divorce is contested, a divorce can be final within 30 days. If property, grounds for divorce, or custody of children is contested, it may take six to 18 months before the divorce can be completed.
Why is a restraining order included in divorce papers?
When the divorce complaint is filed, an automatic restraining order is attached to all divorce filings.
It applies equally to both parties and puts both parties on their good behavior and protects the marital status quo as to property rights until the divorce is completed.

What is a "no-fault" divorce?
"No-fault" divorce laws mean that neither spouse needs to prove that the other has been guilty of any misconduct in order to obtain a divorce. Arkansas does not allow "no-fault" divorces. However, if husband and wife have been living apart for 18 months, the court will grant a divorce without a finding of fault on the part of either party. Ark. Code Ann. 9-12-301(5)

What is considered marital property?
Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage, regardless of the name in which it is titled. Marital property does not include property that a person owned prior to the marriage, has inherited individually, or received as a gift.
What is considered marital debt?
Marital debt is ordinarily all debt acquired during the marriage, regardless of the name in which it is titled. It, too, is subject to division by the court if the parties cannot agree on who will pay the marital debt.

How do Arkansas Courts divide the marital property?
Ark. Code Ann. 9-12-315 provides that the Court shall divide the marital property one-half to each party unless the Court finds such a division to be unfair. The statute then lists nine factors the judge should consider if he/she makes an unequal division of the property.

Are retirement plans marital property?
Yes. Pension, individual retirement accounts, and retirement benefits acquired during the marriage are all considered marital property and subject to division by the court upon divorce.
Elder Law
What is Elder Law?
Elder law is a combination of tools attorneys use to assist senior citizens and their children, family and friends to navigate during the final years of life.
These tools may include a will, a living trust, a power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, an advanced care directive (also referred to as a living will), and possibly medicaid assistance, guardianship or conservatorship, aid and attendance for veterans, and beneficiary deeds.
What are Advanced Directives?
Advanced directives are documents that you sign ahead of time, giving instruction for future occurrences. They include health care proxies and living wills. Health care proxies name someone to make health care decisions for you if you are not able to make them yourself. A living will is your statement that in the event that there is no hope of your recovery, you do not want to be kept alive by artificial life support.
What is a Guardian?
A guardianship is established when a person is no longer able to care for himself/herself or his/her estate.
A guardianship is established by filing a petition in the Probate Court in the county where the person lives.
The Probate Court Judge, based upon the evidence, will determine if the person is capable of handling his/her person or estate or neither.
If the Judge determines that the person is unable to handle himself/herself or his/her estate or neither, then the Judge will determine the person to be incompetent and appoint a guardian for that person or that person’s estate or both.
There can be a guardian of the person and a different guardian of the estate, or one person can serve as both.
Often a bank trust department will be appointed as guardian of the estate, and a relative or friend will be appointed as guardian of the person.
The guardian is responsible for reporting to the Probate Court Judge on his/her/its activities and is required to get the Judge’s approval on these activities each year.
A minor is considered an incompetent person, and a parent, grandparent, family member or friend can be named as the guardian of a minor and/or of a minor’s estate. A bank can be appointed as the guardian of a minor’s estate.
What is a Conservator?
A conservatorship is similar to a guardianship except the conservator only serves over the ward’s estate and is appointed to help the ward conserve his/her estate.
Estate Planning
What is Estate Planning?
Estate Planning is planning for your future, whether you live too long or when you die. It involves preparing your last will, living trust, power of attorney and advanced directives.
What is a Will?
A will is a document for transferring your assets following your death to the people to whom you want to leave your assets.
How do I prepare a Will?
You can prepare your will in your own handwriting and sign it. This is called a holographic will. (It is rumored that attorneys make more money on straightening out problems with holographic wills than they make in writing proper wills. For instance, I had a client whose father prepared his own will and left his daughter all of his real and personal property but left his other assets 50% to the Watchtower Society and 50% to others. His daughter only got about 1/10th of his estate and the rest went to the Watchtower Society and others.)
In Arkansas, a person must know 3 things to prepare a will. He or she must know their natural heirs. They must know the approximate value of their estate, and they must know to whom they want to leave their estate.
The natural heirs would be their children. If they have no children, then it would be their parents. If their parents are deceased, then it would be their brothers and sisters. 
In Arkansas, a properly executed will must be signed by the testator/testatrix and, if it is typed, then it must be witnessed by 2 disinterested witnesses.
What is a Living Trust?
A living trust is a document that will assist you in handling your estate during your lifetime and after your death.
You will be the Settlor (the one setting up your living trust), the Trustee (the one managing your trust assets) and the Primary Beneficiary (the one for whose benefit the trust is established).
You will name the Successor Trustee who will succeed you as Trustee when you die, become incompetent, or resign, and you will name the Secondary Beneficiary or Beneficiaries for whose benefit the trust will exist upon your death.
What are the benefits of a Living Trust?
A living trust is the best way to avoid probate expenses when you die.
A living trust is built on the premise that you trust the Successor Trustee to carry out your wishes in distributing your estate without the need of a probate Judge’s oversight. 
A second advantage to a living trust is to avoid guardianship expenses if you live too long. With the living trust, you have already named the person or persons you want to be in charge of your estate when you are no longer able to manage your estate, either because of your death or your incompetence.
Why should I do a Living Trust?
You should consider a living trust as a way to protect your estate if you live too long and to transfer your estate at the time of your death without the expense or time of probate. If you live too long, become incompetent and are not able to manage your assets, you have named a person to handle your assets for your benefit until you die. By doing this, you avoid the expense of setting up a guardianship.
What should I put in my trust?
We recommend that you put all of your property and estate in your trust except for retirement benefits. If you are married your spouse should be the primary beneficiary of your retirement benefits and the trust should be the secondary beneficiary.
If I have a Living Trust, do I need a Will?
Yes. Your will serves as a safety net. It will catch anything that you do not get put into your trust during your lifetime and will pour it over into your trust after your death. A will can also provide for the guardian of your minor children should you die while you have minor children.
What is an Advanced Care Plan?
An Advanced Care Plan is a document that takes the place of a living will or death-with-dignity declaration.
The Advanced Care Plan is relatively new in Arkansas. It deals with a quality of life and an unacceptable quality of life and allows the maker of the Advanced Care Plan to set out what they determine to be an unacceptable quality of life in four areas.
These four areas are:
  1. Permanently unconscious condition
  2. Permanently confused condition
  3. Need assistance with all of my activities of daily living, and
  4. A terminable condition where I have taken all of the treatment and there is nothing left to take.
The person making this Advanced Care Plan will check any or all of the above which that person believes to be an unacceptable quality of life.
If that person’s life is beset by one of the unacceptable quality-of-life conditions which that person has chosen, then that person can decide on the treatment in the following ways:
  1. Do you want CPR?
  2. Do you want tube feeding or IV fluids?
  3. Do you want treatment of a new condition?
  4. Do you want life support?
You make the choices on what is an unacceptable quality of life and you make the decision on what treatment you want if you have an unacceptable quality of life. 
Attached is a sample of an Advanced Care Plan.
Probate
Why do I need a Will?
If you die without a Will, the state will direct how your property will be distributed. All jointly owned property will go to the surviving joint owner. All property owned just in your name alone will, after your death, be probated, with one-third going to your spouse, if you have one, and two-thirds going to your children, if you have any. If you have no spouse and no children, everything goes to your parents, if they are alive; if they are not alive, everything goes to your brothers and sisters, if they are alive; if they are not alive, everything goes to their children. In addition to the other expenses your estate will incur in probate, your administrator will have to post a bond to serve. This is an additional expense you can avoid with a will.
Is a Will probated?
In Arkansas, a will has to be probated following a person’s death to be proven to be that person’s last will. Probating also cuts off claims against the estate if the claim is not made within 6 months of the first publication of the notice of probate in the local newspaper.
The probate Judge must approve the activities of the personal representative, and the personal representative is required to post a bond and file an inventory and an accounting, unless the beneficiaries waive these requirements or the Will waives these requirements.
Who will inherit from me?
You can leave your estate to whomever you select. You do not have to leave your children anything as long as you name them in your will. You don’t have to leave your spouse anything; however, if you and your spouse have been married for more than a year, your spouse can claim against your will and receive 1/3 of your estate. 
What is my estate?
Your estate includes everything you own or exercise control over. 
It can be real estate, which is land and anything permanently attached to the land. It can be personal property. Personal property is anything other than land. 
Joint ownership of real property with right of survivorship takes that property out of your estate when you die if the joint owner is still alive. For instance, if you and your spouse own your home as husband and wife, then upon your death, the house goes to your spouse by right of survivorship. Of course, when your spouse dies following your death, then the house will go to your spouse’s heirs or beneficiaries under your spouse’s will.
What else should I know about my Will and Probate?
Probate expenses normally run between 3 to 7 percent of what goes through probate.
A Testator is a male, 18 years of age or older, who makes a will.
A Testatrix is a female, 18 years of age or older, who makes a will.
An Executor is a male who serves as the personal representative for an estate.
An Executrix is a female who serves as the personal representative for an estate. 
An Administrator is a person appointed by the Probate Court to serve as the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate.
A personal representative is the person either named in the Will or appointed by the court to handle a person’s estate after the person is deceased. The personal representative is responsible to the Probate Judge for his/her actions while handling the estate of the deceased
Real Estate
Do I need a survey if I am buying real estate in Arkansas?
A survey is always preferable; however, most property in Arkansas is sold and bought without surveys. You need to make sure that you and your neighbors agree on where the boundaries are before you buy the property. Even this agreement may not be adequate if there is a problem with the legal description
When does a fence line become a property line?
When the parties agree or when the fence has been there for more than seven years, unless the parties on each side of the fence have agreed that the fence is not the property line.
Which is better, a warranty deed or a quitclaim deed?
A warranty deed is always preferable!
What is the difference in a warranty vs. a quitclaim deed?
The grantor in a warranty deed warrants that the grantor has good and merchantable title to the property, while the grantor in a quitclaim deed conveys only the interest which the grantor has in the property, if any.
What is the difference in a mortgage vs. a deed of trust?
These two documents do basically the same thing -- secure a promissory note with real property. You are required to sign either a mortgage or a deed of trust when you borrow money in order to buy real estate. The deed of trust names a third party to hold title until the promissory note is paid in full. The mortgage is more commonly used in Arkansas than the deed of trust.
Do I need a lawyer at closing?
Real estate transactions can be tricky and are usually filled with numerous pages of documents -- documents that require your reading, understanding, and signature. Without a lawyer, you are on your own to either read all of these documents or sign them after someone who is not necessarily representing your interest tells you what these documents mean. It is advisable to have a lawyer with you at closing.
What about adverse possession in Arkansas?
Arkansas has a very short adverse possession statute. It says that if a person claims property adversely for seven or more years, then that person may have a court declare that person as the owner of the property. Adverse possession requires that a person have continuous, exclusive, adverse, notorious possession of the property for seven years or longer and pay taxes on the property unless it is adjacent to other property owned by the person claiming adversely.
Disclaimer
Disclaimer
DISCLAIMER:  The information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We ask you to contact us by telephone, letter or electronic mail. However, contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send us any confidential information until requested.

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