Arkansas Restrictions on Who Can Serve as Executor

Learn the rules about who can be your personal representative in Arkansas.

One of the most important reasons to make a will is to name your executor -- commonly called a “personal representative” in Arkansas. After your death, your executor’s primary job is to protect your property until any debts and taxes have been paid, and then transfer what’s left to those who are entitled to it.

Every state has some rules about who may serve as the executor of an estate that goes through probate. Here are the requirements in Arkansas.

Basic Requirements for Serving as an Arkansas Executor

Your executor must be:

  • at least 18 years old, and
  • of sound mind -- that is, not judged incapacitated by a court.

Arkansas lowered the required age from 21 to 18 in 2016.

Many states prohibit people who have felony convictions from serving as executor. In Arkansas, your executor cannot be a “convicted and unpardoned felon” under any federal or state law.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 28-48-101.)

Special Rules for Executors in Arkansas

In addition to the restrictions above, an Arkansas probate court will reject a potential executor found to be unsuitable. It’s highly unlikely, but if a question arises about the qualifications of the person you’ve named as your executor, the court will hold a hearing in front of all “interested persons” -- such as your spouse, heirs, creditors, and other potential executors. At the hearing, a judge will determine who is best suited to serve as executor and terminate any appointment found to be improper.

Furthermore, while you can name a corporation as your executor, it must be authorized to act as fiduciary in Arkansas. That said, think carefully before appointing a bank or trust company to represent your estate. It’s almost always best to name an individual; consider an institution only if you don’t know anyone you trust enough to serve or your estate is very large and complex.

(Ark. Code Ann. § § 28-48-101, 28-48-105.)

Arkansas Restrictions on Out-of-State Executors

For practical reasons, it’s smart to name an executor who lives near you. Your executor may have to handle day-to-day matters for weeks, months, or sometimes longer. If you must appoint an executor who lives far away, you should know the requirements your state imposes on out-of-state representatives.

In Arkansas, a nonresident executor must appoint someone who lives in the county where the estate is being probated to act as an agent. Your executor’s in-state agent will accept any legal papers related to your estate.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 28-48-101.)

Learn More

If you want to know more about an executor’s duties and responsibilities in Arkansas, the Arkansas Bar Association offers a Handbook for Personal Representatives.

For more information about choosing your executor and making your will, see the Wills section of Nolo.com.

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