Probate in Mississippi

          The typical probate of a last will and testament in Mississippi does not have to be lengthy, complicated or expensive. Unless there are special circumstances, such as a business to wind down or estate tax returns to file, the time required to complete most probates is only about six months. However, all proceedings involving the probate of wills and administration of estates require the services of an attorney licensed to practice law in Mississippi.

When someone dies owning assets in Mississippi titled in his or her name alone there must be a legal proceeding brought in the chancery court in the county in which some of those assets are located. If that person dies with a last will and testament, that proceeding is referred to as probate. If he or she does not have a will, the proceeding is referred to as an administration of an intestate estate. There are significant differences between the two. Probate is the legal proceeding through which a will is proven to be the true last will and testament of a deceased person (“decedent”). The court appoints the executor, who is usually named in the will, and one of the executor’s first, official acts should be to secure and protect all estate assets. The executor has many duties, and it is his attorney’s job to guide the executor through the probate process. At the appropriate time and with court authorization the executor can pay properly probated claims and taxes and distribute the decedent’s assets as directed in the will. When there is no will, Mississippi statutory law determines who will receive those assets.

In Mississippi a will may be probated in common or solemn form. It is rare that a will is probated in solemn form. In a common form probate any party not a beneficiary under the will is formally brought into the proceeding through legal service of process, but any interested party has two years from the date of the decree admitting the will to probate to contest its validity. When a will is probated in solemn form all interested parties are given formal, legal notice of a hearing at which the court will decide on the validity of the will before it is admitted to probate. This eliminates the two-year waiting period. Therefore, when there is likely to be a will contest, it is best to probate the will in solemn form.

Is a Probate or Administration Always Necessary?

          When someone dies with assets in Mississippi a probate or intestate administration of his or her estate is not always necessary. If the decedent owns all of his or her assets jointly with another person with rights of survivorship, in most cases ownership of those assets pass automatically to the survivor in accordance with the instrument that created the joint ownership. Examples of this arrangement are joint bank accounts, stocks and deeds to real property. This same principle applies to insurance policies and retirement savings accounts such as IRAs, profit sharing or 401(k) plans. The insurance company or financial institution’s designated beneficiary form determines distribution of the policy proceeds or account balance at the time of death.

Are There Any Shortcuts to Probate of a Will?

          If a person dies owning real property in Mississippi with a will that distributes that real property and if his or her personal assets do not exceed $10,000.00 in value and if all known debts have been paid, including estate and income taxes, then his or her will may be admitted to probate as a muniment of title only by filing a petition with the chancery court. The purpose of this action is to clear up the land records so that they accurately reflect who the new owner is with a minimum amount of delay and expense. However, this type of probate does not clear up questions such as debts and taxes that might be a lien against the real property or the claims of those that might contest the will. Because potential purchasers of real property and lending institutions require that these questions be resolved before closing, practically speaking probate as a muniment of title is not as valuable a tool as one might think.

What Does a Probate or Administration Accomplish?

Probate and administration proceedings settle the claims of both the creditors and the heirs at law or beneficiaries under the will. Mississippi law provides procedures that both creditors and the personal representative must follow to determine which claims are to be paid and settle any disputes with respect to the validity and amounts of claims. It also provides a forum to determine if a will is the true last will and testament of the decedent and to settle disputes over the interpretation of that will. When there is no will an intestate administration is necessary to determine who are the decedent’s heirs at law. Probate and administrative proceedings thus provide heirs, beneficiaries and creditors with a legal, binding process whereby the assets of the decedent are properly handled, claims are determined and paid, and any taxes owed the state or federal government are paid. The attorney’s at Dunn &Hemphill, P.A. have over 50 years of combined experience practicing law in North Mississippi. Much of our law practice is devoted to probate and estate administration. Please contact us today so that we can assist you with your probate or estate administration needs.

 



RECENT UPDATES

Articles Written By David Dunn


CONTACT US

Mailing Address
P.O. Drawer 1426
Columbus, MS. 39703-1426

Office Location:
214 5th Street South
Columbus, MS 39701
Phone: 662-327-4211
Fax: 662-328-3468

E-Mail US

The information contained on this site is for information and contact purposes only. Neither transmission nor receipt of this information is intended to or does create an attorney-client relationship. All information provided is of a general nature, may not reflect the most recent developments in the law, is not legal advice or a solicitation therefor, is not a substitute for legal advice pertaining to a specific situation, and should not be acted on by readers without obtaining advice from legal or other professional counsel applicable to a particular set of facts.

The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. FREE BACKGROUND INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area(s) of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein.

Some links within the Dunn & Hemphill, P.A. ("D&H") web site may lead to other sites. The D&H web site does not incorporate any materials appearing in such linked sites by reference and D&H does not necessarily sponsor, endorse or otherwise approve of such linked materials.

THE web site OF Dunn & Hemphill, P.A. ("D&H") IS NOT INTENDED TO AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE D&H’s DOING BUSINESS IN ANY NON-MISSISSIPPI JURISDICTION IN WHICH THE web site VISITOR MAY BE LOCATED. ANY INQUIRIES ABOUT D&H OR ITS SERVICES MUST BE BY MEANS OF COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE FIRM INITIATED BY THE USER OF THE MATERIALS INCLUDED IN THIS web site.

Copyright © 2001-2008 by Dunn & Hemphill, P.A.. All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement.