If you’ve come into some property in Arkansas or perhaps you have a loved one who wants to gift some Arkansas property to you, you must obtain a deed to that property. There are many Arkansas deed forms on the internet, but as my father (a physician in practice for over 50 years) told his patients when they’d contradict his advice with something they read on the internet: “Just try to sue Dr. Internet when that course of treatment makes you sicker.” If you find an Arkansas deed from out there on the net, most likely, the deed form will not fit your particular needs and will make your situation worse. What deed will work for your situation? It depends and that, frankly, is why you should consult an Arkansas lawyer. Most deeds cost less than $300 to prepare. A professionally prepared deed can save thousands down the road.
Take for instance a situation I once noted in an oil and gas title opinion I rendered. We’ll protect the innocent by calling them the “X” family. (I never represented them, but I will still respect their privacy). Back in 1965, Grandpa X wanted to give his grandson Mr. X a piece of the family farm. Grandpa deeded 40 acres of the farm to Mr. X and his new bride Mrs. X. The farm was in the X family for generations. It was the patrimony of Mr. X, his uncles, aunts, and cousins. There were no outsiders in the farm. So they thought, at least.
Fast forward 15 years later. Mr. and Mrs. X divorced in their hometown in County A. The X family farm is in County B. The lawyer handling the divorce knew nothing about the farm property. It never dawned on Mr. X to even think about the farm as anything but belonging to the X family, and to Mr. X, Mrs. X was out of that family due to divorce. The property was never mentioned in Mr. and Mrs. X’s divorce decree.
Twenty years later, Mr. X had gone on to glory. Eight years after that, gas was discovered on the X family farm. Nothing in the real estate records revealed the death of Mr. X, so this darn pesky oil and gas title examiner (me) started asking questions. The divorce decree came up and the death did too.
The family did not take the news well. The original deed created a survivorship estate in the young couple. That is, when “death do us part” happened, the survivor of the marriage got the property. When they divorced, however, and the decree did not mention the property, an obscure statute kicked in which turned the survivorship estate into a tenancy in common (that is, one half each absolutely). The result was that the entire X family wound up with an unwanted partner in their farm and gas wells–the former Mrs. X.
Grandpa messed up the deed to his grandson by doing it himself. If he’d have had counsel, the lawyer would have asked questions about the property and explained the ramifications of including Mrs. X on that deed. But now, a total stranger to the family has just as much right to occupy the X family farm as they do.
The tl;dr of this post–pay a lawyer to draw up your deeds. You might be clever, but I assure you that you’re not clever at everything.