Estate Taxes: An Overview

When the time comes to distribute your wealth and property, you want your family to get as much as possible. You can bypass several taxes and frustrations with the proper planning and forethought.

Criminal Procedure in Arkansas

There is a 1 in 148 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Arkansas.

The last thing you want to experience is helplessness because of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the law. Although the Natural State has its fair share of safe cities and regions, it’s crucial to know how to respond to a violent crime.

Rights in Civil Cases

What do crime shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and Law and Order all have in common? They all show court trials featuring juries for nearly every case. In reality, less than 1% of civil trials ever see a jury.

What Are Revocable Trusts?

Although wills and trusts have no income threshold, nearly 50% of individuals who make over $80,000/year have a while compared to 24% who make less than $40,000.

And while COVID spurred many young people to create a will, the vast majority of Americans are still without protection.

If you have a will, you should consider adding a revocable living trust to accommodate possible changes in your future.

Defining Revocable Trusts

Revocable trusts are a collection of provisions and assets that the grantor can change.

Revocable trusts are living trusts, Inter Vivos Trusts, or loving trusts. Regardless of the name, the principle remains the same–it provides flexibility and income to the trustor (also known as grantor).

A living trust provides security because if the grantor experiences a health decline or dies unexpectantly, the assets in the trust can cover medical costs or go directly to the beneficiaries.

Image by © The Balance 2018 

Although revocable trusts are excellent and offer many benefits, there are some things you should know about before creating one.

Pros and Cons of Revocable Trusts

Before creating a revocable living trust, you must be aware of a few pieces of information to help you make your decision. Here is a detailed list of the pros and cons of revocable trusts.





The grantor can change revocable trusts at any time during their life.



Since the assets in the trust are flexible, if you experience health problems or an emergency comes up, you can liquidate your assets for payment.



The grantor can always end the trust if they deem it unnecessary.


Avoid Probate Court

With most estate planning, assets and property must go to probate court before the beneficiaries receive anything. But in a revocable trust, everything skips probate court and goes directly to the beneficiaries.

Upfront Costs

Creating a revocable trust can cost thousands of dollars depending on the law firm, the state you live in, and the included assets.


No Tax Advantages

Although some estate planning documents give you an estate tax break, a revocable living trust doesn’t. Since the assets are part of your estate, you must pay taxes on them.


Creditors Have Access

Similar to the lack of tax advantage since you have a living trust, creditors can seize your assets if you fail to pay your debts.


Establishing a revocable trust is a great way to prepare for the future but still leaves you with the flexibility to make changes throughout your lifetime.

However, the revocable trust doesn’t protect you from taxes or creditors during your lifetime or even after your death because the funds are available to cover costs accrued.

Is a Revocable Trust Right for You?

If you want to create a revocable trust fund, you need to speak with a law firm to help you start the process and fill out the necessary documents.

But before you fill out the paperwork, speak with the lawyers at Hickey and Hull Law Partners to determine if a revocable trust is suitable for you.

What Is a Burden of Proof?

There are more than 100 million civil and criminal cases filed every year. And while a vast majority never go to court, approximately 400,000 do.

During these trials, evidence is essential–it’s how someone retains innocence or is proven guilty. But who is responsible for evidence?


The burden of proof often lies with the plaintiff, but depending on the situation, the defendant may also have to provide evidence.


Defining the Burden of Proof

In short, the burden of proof is evidence. However, depending on the case, there are different amounts of the required evidence. Nonetheless, all burdens of proof have two things in common: burden of production and burden of persuasion.


The Burden of Production

The part of the proof is the manifestation of evidence. The plaintiff must present sufficient amounts of evidence for the case against the defendant.

There is no case without some evidence to support the plaintiff’s claim. The defendant must explain why the evidence does not prove their guilt.


The Burden of Persuasion

In the United States, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

Therefore, when the plaintiff presents evidence, they must also persuade the judge and jury that the evidence is sufficient to support their claim against the defendant.

This persuasive step is crucial in proving guilt as it’s the only way to indict someone of a crime or misdemeanor.

Additionally, the defendant must explain how the evidence doesn’t indict them and how they are innocent of the claim.


Standards of Proof in the United States

When the plaintiff presents their evidence and attempts to persuade the judge and jury, there are multiple standards they must meet depending on their case and the court’s level.

There are three primary standards for most cases: preponderance of evidence, clear and convincing evidence, and beyond a reasonable doubt.


#1: Preponderance of Evidence

Most often used in family court, “preponderance of evidence” is when the plaintiff presents substantial evidence to prove that their argument is more accurate than the defendant.

“Preponderance of evidence” produces enough evidence to show another person is responsible for damages.


#2: Clear and Convincing Evidence

This next standard requires that all the evidence presented in a trial is highly and sustainably valid. “Clear and convincing evidence” is necessary for greater believability in civil cases.


#3: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The most well-known standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This standard is used strictly in criminal cases because it requires the production of proof and persuasion to be so great that there is no room for doubt in the jury’s collective mind.

This standard is challenging because it puts the legal burden on the plaintiff to provide credible evidence and explanation to show that the defendant committed a crime.


How Can We Help You?

Whether you are involved in a civil case or criminal trial, you must have a team ready to fight by your side. The burden of proof rests on you as the plaintiff. When emotionally invested in a case, it’s hard to find sufficient evidence on your own.

The attorneys at Hickey and Hull Law Partners are ready to help you build a case to prove your claim or defense. Contact us today for a free case review.

How to Settle a Property Line Dispute

Have you dealt with complaints about a tree in your yard that drops pinecones on your neighbor’s property? Do you have a neighbor looking to build a shed or overhang that comes dangerously close to your property?

If so, you need to clarify your boundary lines as soon as possible.

Whether you own hundreds of acres or live in a subdivision, every home has property lines. If you’re dealing with a possible dispute, use this guide to help you navigate the issue and come to a peaceful solution.

5 Steps to Resolving Property Line Disputes

Property lines are a legal description of invisible boundaries around your property that separate it from your neighbors. Every private and public property has a line that distinguishes it from another.

There are several ways to resolve a boundary line dispute, but you want to go with the most amicable option for your sake. Given that you’re having this discussion with your neighbor, you don’t want things to get ugly, so it’s essential to maintain the peace for as long as possible.

Step 1: Talk With Your Neighbor

A simple conversation with your neighbor before either one starts a project near the property line is a great way to avoid frustration and a legal battle. Afterward, document your conversation and send a letter that reiterates it so that you have a paper trail should the problem continue.

Step 2: Install a Fence

One of the best ways to prevent a property line dispute is to install a fence. As long as your fence is on your property, you shouldn’t have any issues.

When you use a fence, you mitigate future problems by clearly outlining your property.

Step 3: Conduct a Property Title Search

If your property line dispute escalates past an amicable stage, you need to find official documentation that outlines your property. Although a title search costs money, it’s a great way to try and settle the dispute.

Step 4: Hire a Land Surveyor

A land surveyor is an individual who comes to your property and uses measuring tools to conduct a land survey and settle the dispute. Because a land surveyor doubles as a legal arbiter, you can use their measurements as evidence if your argument goes to court.

Before having someone come out, it’s best to speak with your neighbor and let them know what’s happening so they don’t feel defensive.

Step 5: Find a Lawyer

If all else fails, you need to find a lawyer. Even though a land surveyor’s measurements hold in a court of law, some people will still fight against it. Find a real estate attorney who can end the boundary dispute outside of court if you need legal representation.


Property line disputes are one of the worst things about homeownership. If you find yourself nearing a disagreement, follow these steps for the most amicable solution possible.

However, if you live in northern Arkansas and reach step five, contact Hickey and Hull Law Partners. We can help you settle this dispute once and for all.

What is Probate?

In Arkansas, you need to be 18 or older to write your own will. Unfortunately, many people wait until they’re nearly retired to write their will. So, if a person passes away unexpectedly before they write their will, all their possessions must go through probate, which lengthens and complicates the process. If you are 18 or older, it’s in your best interest to write a will immediately. In an untimely death, your will makes the process easier for your family and the state.


Probate is a complicated process in which a person’s possessions go through the court to determine who receives what. If the person who passed away has a will, the probate process is more straightforward. Since the probate court judge can follow the guidelines and assist the Executor in completing necessary tasks. However, the court makes the final decisions on a deceased person’s possessions without a will.

What Goes Through Probate Court?

Regardless of the presence of a will, most cases go through a probate proceeding. However, the process is simplified when a will from the deceased person details the allocations and beneficiaries. Even though there are ways to avoid probate court (see next section), nearly every case spends some time here because of the following:

  • When a beneficiary dies before the giver
  • Non-titled property–this covers household items like appliances, furniture, and clothing from the decedent’s estate that may not have any paperwork with it.

  • Partner-owned investment property–when the deceased shares property with another landlord (joint tenancy), the process goes through court.
  • Sole property ownership–when only the deceased own the property but do not clarify who receives the deeds after their death.

Although issues like these need to go through probate proceedings, you can save your family a lot of time by establishing a trust and will for your retirement accounts, bank or brokerage accounts, and any notes on how you would like to transfer property and remaining assets.

How Do You Avoid Probate?

It is not easy to avoid probate–it requires forethought, proactivity, and planning ahead of time to make your death and the processes that follow simpler for your family. Your family can avoid probate court with the following:

  • Items with a beneficiary–personal property avoid probate when a name is listed next to an item.
  • Anything listed in a trust–with a living trust, any items you place in there with the beneficiaries name avoid going to court.

  • POD or TOD–Pay on Death or Transfer on Death means that any finances transfer to the listed beneficiary.
  • Jointly Titled Property–any property between two people on the title goes to the current living owner (typically the surviving spouse).

When you take proactive steps to plan for your loved ones’ lives after you pass, you make the grieving and legal process much easier on them.


Dealing with the death of a loved one is tricky. It becomes more challenging when you must deal with the finances and paperwork that follow. However, when you use a trust and will, you simplify the process for everyone. If you are ready to write a trust and will or need a personal representative, we can help you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.


What to Do If You’re Involved in a Car Accident

In 2021, there were 648 fatal car accidents in Arkansas and thousands more non-fatal accidents. When you get in an accident, there are a lot of emotions, including fear, worry, frustration, and doubt. To help you deal with your feelings and make the right decisions, follow this list of steps to keep you safe.

6 Steps to Take After a Car Accident

One of the most important things you can do before any emergency, like a car crash, is to read up on your insurance coverage and know what is covered. Having this knowledge will help you navigate the next several steps.

Step 1: Check Yourself and Fellow Passengers for Injuries

After an auto accident, you must seek medical attention and ensure everyone involved is okay–starting with yourself. Before you can take care of others, you must ensure you are safe and don’t have serious injuries. If you are healthy and safe, you can begin checking on other passengers in your vehicle.

Step 2: Move Yourself and Vehicle to Safety (If Possible)

If you’ve determined everyone is safe, move your vehicle to the side of the road. Not only does this keep you out of harm’s way, but it also prevents traffic from building up on the road. Once you are on the side of the road, turn on your hazard lights for safety.

Step 3: Contact Law Enforcement

After moving your vehicle to the side of the road, call the police.

When you dial 9-1-1, emergency services and law enforcement will quickly come to the accident scene and help you and the passengers. When the police arrive, they will take statements from those involved in the accident and witnesses.

Step 4: Exchange Information with Other Driver

For insurance purposes, you must share information with the other driver. This information will help you file a claim and give your insurance company and law enforcement essential details to decide who is at fault. During this conversation, do not own responsibility or blame another driver.

Step 5: Call Insurance Company

Once you have the other driver’s insurance information, you can call your insurance company and file your claim.

While on the phone with the insurance agent, do not tell them it was your fault or blame another driver–they are to look at images of car damage, property damage, and the police report before concluding your insurance claim.

Step 6: Find a Reputable Lawyer

Whether or not you think the accident is your fault, it is in your best interest to seek legal advice and representation. Finding a lawyer is not an admission of guilt. Instead, it prepares you for discussing your case should it go to court.


After a car accident, your mind is rushing, and you have many emotions. These six steps are essential for anyone involved. However, step six requires the help of an expert. Hickey & Hull Law Partners has over 70 combined years of experience. We promise to provide professional service, prompt communication, and persistent work on your case. Contact us today to get started on your case.

Protect Your Family With an Estate Planner

Experts estimate that 50%-60% of US citizens do not have a will in place. For some people, it is a matter of not getting around to it, while for others, they do not believe they have enough “things” to save for their family.

To make matters worse, only ⅔ of Americans older than 65 have a will. So even people later in life lack a testament, and for a good reason. Writing a will and planning for your death feels wrong and morbid, especially at an old age. But without a plan, you leave your assets to the state. You can protect your family when you work with an estate planner.

What Is an Estate Planner?

Just like the name states, estate planning professionals are individuals who work with anyone 18 years and older to plan how to divide the person’s assets when they die. An estate planner works on financial documents, handles estate taxes, deals with tax planning, and helps to write wills over the years.

But not anyone can be an estate attorney. Most estate planners have experience in law or finance with years of experience to help them with people. An estate planner is a trusted individual who will oversee everything in the estate planning process to help divide the assets after death.

Why Use an Estate Planner?

For older adults who wait to plan until they’re 65 or older, it is hard to discuss their death and finances. An estate planner helps a senior have these hard conversations and make the right decisions.

As a certified financial planner familiar with income tax, estate tax, investments, assets, and savings accounts, estate planners address these financial affairs and prepare a family for the death of a loved one. Not only are they financially literate, but they should have a background in law or, at the very least, a working understanding of the law.

With so much to cover and many documents to write and fill out, it’s overwhelming for the average person to do this independently. Not only is it stressful, but there’s a high likelihood you miss something vital if you don’t have someone to guide you through the process.

While you should write a will when you’re 18, many folks wait until they’re much older. As you age, you naturally accumulate more assets, and the workload increases to establish your estate when you pass. In this case, it’s wise to work with an estate planner who can help you navigate these tricky waters.


While no one can force you to work with an estate planner, it is in your family’s best interest that you work with someone who can help you delve into your finances and assets. An estate planner is an experienced individual who understands the law and how you can best protect yourself and your family with necessary documents like wills and basic trusts.

If you are ready to establish an estate plan, reach out to us at Hickey and Hull Law Partners. We have decades of experience helping individuals like you make the most of their assets and protect their families in the future.

Why an Officer Might Arrest You & What You Should Do

In 2020, Robert Julian-Borchak Williams was arrested based on computer-generated facial recognition. During his stay in jail, it was clear the facial recognition software was wrong – officers arrested Mr. Williams for a crime he never committed. Law enforcement makes mistakes, so it’s crucial you know what to do if an officer apprehends you. The best way to know what to do is to understand why a police officer will arrest you and the steps you can take after your arrest.

Reasons Why an Officer Will Arrest You

As a general rule, a police officer can only detain you if they have probable cause – a reasonable belief for the criminal charge, based on facts and circumstances. While all forms of arrest include probable cause, the two main reasons for arrest are the officer observed you committing criminal activity or the law enforcement agency provides an arrest warrant.

Observation of a Crime

While rare, if an officer sees you commit a crime, they can make a lawful arrest. Most times, police officers observe crime during a routine traffic stop.

By federal law, an officer can only pull you over if they suspect your vehicle’s involvement in a particular case or you break a traffic state law. Therefore, they can write a citation or arrest you.

Law Enforcement Provides an Arrest Warrant

If cops arrest you, a police investigation preceded your apprehension, and you were deemed their top suspect. Proper criminal procedure states that an officer must show up at your residence or occupation and provide a warrant for your arrest. Once a judge signs a warrant, every police station in the country has access to it, and if you cross paths with them, they can arrest you.

Steps to Take After You’re Arrested

If an arrest occurs, you must understand your rights and the proper steps to follow.

When an arresting officer handcuffs a suspect, they must recite the Miranda Warning informing the person arrested of their rights–right to remain silent and right to an attorney. Afterward, take these steps:

Step 1: Immediately Request a Lawyer Once Taken Into Custody.

Under no circumstances should you speak, write, or provide any statements regarding the criminal arrest without counsel present.

Step 2: Make a Phone Call

Contact a responsible person who will pick up the phone and help you in your present situation.

Step 3: Calmly Return to Your Holding Cell

While in custody, wait for your legal authority to show up and request evidence to help you with the next steps.


Arrests are a scary thing, and adrenaline runs high. The most important thing to do in an officer’s presence is to remain calm and listen to him. As the person charged, whatever you do, do not resist. If a cop says you committed a crime, understand there must be probable cause and follow the steps outlined here. Call Hickey & Hull Law Partners when you request an attorney. We have experience in criminal law and can help you get back to your life.